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:

Alicia M. Gonzalez Tabares

General Information (register this account)
Current Name
Information not provided
Current Location
Information not provided
Name on Arrival
Alicia M. Gonzalez Tabares
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Tuesday, December 12, 1961
Relocated To
CWB - Florida City

Alicia M.'s Story

This person has not yet filled out their story about their flight as a part of Operation Pedro Pan.

Alicia M.'s News Feed

Leave a public message for Alicia M..

IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF THE VENTURINI FAMILY OF BOONTON, NJ WHO FOSTERED ALICIA AND EDUARDO GONZALEZ DURING OPERATION PEDRO PAN. Robert P. Venturini AGE: 74 • Boonton Robert P. "Bob" Venturini died Saturday, June 30, 2012 at St. Clare's Hospital, Denville following an apparent heart attack. He was 74. Born in Boonton Township, he lived there before moving to Boonton 50 years ago. He graduated from Boonton High School in 1956. Mr. Venturini was the owner/proprietor of Venturini's Super Deli in Boonton for 25 years before retiring last year. He also had previously owned and operated the Trolley Stop Restaurant in Boonton for several years. He served in the U.S. Army during peacetime in the late 1950's. Bob was a lifelong parishioner and usher at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church; served on the Boonton Board of Alderman and Boonton Planning Board for several terms and was a longtime member and past-president of the Kiwanis Club of Boonton. He was a rabid Jets fan. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Dorothy (nee Bednar); four sons, Jack and his wife, Jill of Boonton, Jimmy and his wife, Kelly of Houston, Tex., Christopher and his wife, Christy of Boonton Twp. and Robert and his wife, Cathy of Boonton; two daughters, Marie McKeever and her husband, Don of Franklin and Susan Johnson and her husband, George of Hardyston Twp.; two brothers, Thomas Venturini of Boonton and Edward Gonzalez of Puerto Rico; a sister, Ali Lada of Miami, Fla.; eleven cherished grandchildren, Danielle, Nick, Heather, John, Jessie, Stefani, Giancarlo, Tony, Thomas, Matthew and Dennis and a great grandson, Mason. The Funeral Liturgy will be celebrated on Thursday, July 5th at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 910 Birch St., Boonton with interment to follow at St. Mary's Cemetery, Boonton. Friends may visit with the family on Wednesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mackey Funeral Home (, 107 Essex Ave., Boonton. Memorial contributions in Bob's name may be made to the Kiwanis Ambulance Service of Boonton, P.O. Box 16, Boonton, NJ 07005. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jul 5th 2012

Hoy celebramos a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Lupita) and the 50th anniversary of your arrival in the U.S.. May she always protect you. Love ('cause u know I don't hug):), your cousin.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Dec 12th 2011

Leave a message for Alicia M.

Your message
Your name
Your e-mail