Cuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles by Janey Fugate Julia Adán Pelegrín, 71, opened a black suitcase full of faded elegant shirts. Those shirts, she explained, belonged to her father, Emilio Adán Silva, when he was a Supreme Court justice in Cuba, and they represented his life before he and 12 other justices signed a letter denouncing Fidel Castro’s government. Eight years later, his family moved to Miami. Those shirts, Pelegrín says, represent the sacrifice her father made for his family and express the pride she feels. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation,” Adán said. “[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.” Such feelings of pride and nostalgia prevailed Saturday in the lobby of the Freedom Tower, when dozens of Cubans gathered to donate or lend objects of historic interest that document their exile experience. More than 300 items — passports, documents, photos, clothes — will be part of an exhibit that will open at the tower in September. The inauguration of the exhibit is a key step in the preservation of Cuban history, said Alina Interián, host of the event and executive director of Miami Dade College cultural affairs. “We want to pay tribute to the people to whom this tower means so much,” said Interián, who also was processed at the Freedom Tower when she arrived from Cuba. Between 1962 and 1974, Cuban refugees were processed at the tower, known as “The Refuge.” It was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008. The exhibit, titled “The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom,” is a collaboration between Miami Dade College and the Miami Herald Media Company. Its objective is to document, preserve and share the history of the difficulties the exiled Cuban community went through since Fidel Castro’s rise to power. The facility has deserved a project like this for some time, said Luisa Meruelo, 93, who worked for the tower’s immigration service for nine years. “I was always wondering why no one had done something about the refugees here,” Meruelo said. “This is a long story, a beautiful story.” The exhibit is a way to thank the nation that gave them refuge during that turbulent time, she said. “We have to thank the people of the United States for being so generous to us at a very difficult time,” she said. Now, the museum can show items like the first coins earned in this country, the tie that an immigrant was wearing when he arrived, a wedding gown and the tiny dress of a 3-year-old. To the people who wore them, these items are intimately associated with the difficult experience of having to abandon their native country. One of those people was Mercy Advocat, who arrived in 1962 with her brother in the Pedro Pan Operation. That exodus took place between 1960 and 1962 and brought more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States. “The last thing our parents told us before leaving was that my brother and I should never be separated,” Advocat said. “We then boarded the plane and, when we landed, the first thing they did was separate us — the girls from the boys.” Advocat and her brother eventually were sent to the same foster home in Albuquerque, N.M., and they ended doing what their parents had told them. After two years, they were reunited with their mother in New York. The black-and-white photos Advocat brought to the tower show her mother’s tears when she reunited with her children. She is lending those photos and a doll brought from Cuba — some of her most precious keepsakes — to the museum. She is not ready to part with them yet. “I’m not so old to have to donate them,” she said. © 2014 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. Read more here:

Loyda A Lavandero Aparicio

General Information
Current Name
Loyda A Lavandero Aparicio
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Loyda A Lavandero Aparicio
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Friday, October 12, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With

Loyda A's Story

Vine en Flight 57 PAN AM. Octubre 12,1962 a las 6:30 de la tarde y con mucho hambre.

Pase 15 horas y me quitaron los arates que mi papa me habia dado desde que you era pequena.

No vi a mi mama e h...

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Loyda A's News Feed

Leave a public message for Loyda A.

Loyda, I read that you are in Lakeland. Please take note of the following in the event you might be intersted. "There will be a Mass of Our Lady of Charity and dedicated to the Pedro Pans. Details are as follows: Date: Saturday, September 10, 2011 Time: 7:00 pm Location: Incarnation Catholic Church 5124 Gateway Drive Tampa, Florida 33615 Telephone(813) 885-7861 Directions: go to their website

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Aug 25th 2011

Loyda A says: Iris: Did you have long and curly hair? I remember you, my name is Loyda Lavandero and I live between Tampa and Orlando. I am always going to one.

Status update | Aug 25th 2011

Hi Loyda, Yo estuve tambien con Silvia e Ignacio pero mucho antes que tu. Mayo-Agosto 1962. Me gustaria saber cuando ellos se fueron. Te acuerdas de 'Luly' su hija; Te acuerdas de Haydee Nuñez? Yo me comunico con ambas. Cuando quieras puedes escribirme al email de casa que aparece en mi profile. Tienes fotos de esos tiempos? Silvia e Ignacio eran muy amigos de mis padres. Sabes que ellos murieron, incluyendo a los varones. Luly es maestra en Homestead. Cuando puedas pon unas fotos. Un abrazo,

Message by Beatriz Amézaga-Wolf | Oct 15th 2010


Message by Margarita M Galvez Maza | Sep 22nd 2010

Querida Loyda: Para mí fué un gran privilegio haber conocido a María Elena, una mujer con valores que no son muy comunes hoy en día......tu nombre me "suena"......ojalà nos podamos ver en Noviembre...... Un abrazo, Otmara

Message by Otmara Capote | Aug 29th 2010

Loyda, check for that organization's upcoming events. Also send them an email expressing your interest in forming a chapter.

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Aug 29th 2010

Loyda A says: When is the next Pedro Pan reunion? I would like to attend but I live in Lakeland. Are there chapters of Pedro Pan?

Status update | Aug 29th 2010

Loyda A says: Is there a site for the houseparents? I never see their pictures

Status update | Jun 22nd 2010

Loyda A has joined the Pedro Pan Network. Please welcome them!

Status update | Jun 3rd 2010

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