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:

Yolanda Cárdenas Díaz

General Information
Current Name
Yolanda Cardenas Ganong
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Yolanda Cárdenas Díaz
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Saturday, August 4, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With
Haiti Pedro Pan
Yolanda has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Yolanda's Story

A story teller once told me that all stories begin in the middle. As I write this, the middle of my story has 17 years on one side and 47 on the other. For thousands of us Pedro Pan children, the midd...

Click here to read the full story

Yolanda's News Feed

Leave a public message for Yolanda.

<< Prev Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 Next >>

Yoli, resulta ser, que ahora ciertas personas no saben quien era Clavelito. Te digo a ti, que este exilio va a ser muy largo. Mira lo que me mando Ivonne Martin en defensa mia. . SE BURLAN DE MI CENTELLA PORQUE NO LA CONOCIERON NI A SU LOMO RECORRIERON FELICES MI TIERRA BELLA. NO HUBO YEGUA COMO ELLA EN MI MUNDO DE PEQUEÑO, AUN CON ELLA YO SUEÑO Y ALGUN DIA VOLVERE CUANDO FLOREZCA EL CAFE Y CUBA NO TENGA DUEÑO. Que amor es Ivonne.

Message by Marcos F. Pinedo | Sep 4th 2009

Hola Yolanda.. me alegra oir de ti y tambien saber que "casi" somos vecinos. Vivia en Cienfuegos en la calle Boullon Hoy 25), muy cerca del Parque Marti. Estuve en los Maristas hasta llegar a la "loma". Ojala nos podamos conocer en persona, creo que a finales de este mes me puedo llegar hasta Columbia. De ser asi, te aviso con tiempo. Muchos carinhos de un Cienfueguero que ama a su ciudad y pais natal.

Message by Rafael J Alcazar Alvarez | Sep 4th 2009

I did read the story, tocaya. Thank you! Actually I just talked to you elsewhere but you must be sleeping! :-)

Message by Adrianne Miller | Sep 4th 2009

Cincuentafueguera, que mal te achaca. Que amistades se te han exstrabiado. He puesto mi pensamiento en ti, pero no tengo la menor idea de lo que estas hablando. Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Sep 3rd 2009

Querida Yolanda "one of this day I WILL find the time and tell You the story of my Life!!My tio,que ya murio,dejo todos sus negocios en Cuba, que eran muchos,en cargo de mi padre,que ya murio,y un dia cuando yo y varios de mis amigos estavamos en Grandon Park,no se si te acuerdas,nos llevavan todos los weekends a la playa!estaba Yo sentado en un banco,pensando en todos los que dejamos en Cuba,y "look and behold" mis tios venian caminando hacia donde Yo estaba!Cuando me vieron lo primero que mi tio me pregunto fue: Angelito por que tu papa no nos manda dinero desde hace mucho tiempo? I could not believe my ears!!Yo les dije, Papy esta preso hace como 6 meses,their faces turned red,then they just simple walked away and wish me luck in this Country! I told myself one of this days Im going to be on top and they are going to need me!I became a Free Mason years later and when my uncle die,about 2 years ago,by the way HE was a Mason also,I WAS THE ONE,AT THE FUNERAL HOME,that went there along with several other MASONS BROTHERS,and did the proper Rituals to see HIM go in PEACE!SMALL WORLD!!!Any way thanks for sending me a nice note!! MY WIFE WAS THE ONE THAT FOUND THE ARTICLE IN THE MIAMI HERALD!I have a feeling I will find the healing that I needed all these years!Love You and Im glad that after all these years somehow most of us will get together! A.J.

Message by Angelo G Jimenez | Sep 3rd 2009

Yolanda, otra cifra estadística horripilante de las atrocidades de los conflictos armados es la de las violaciones a mujeres. El Ejército Rojo al entrar a Alemania, después de la derrota del Ejército Nazi, violó a 900,000 mujeres (casos documentados). En el conflicto armado que se lleva a cabo hoy día en las fronteras de Ruanda, Uganda y la República del Congo 1.5 millones de mujeres han sido violadas, la mayor parte niñas. Tienes razón la historia se repite con demasiada frecuencia. José Antonio.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Sep 3rd 2009

Sí, Yolanda, lamentablemente la historia se repite con frecuencia y con variaciones de los mismos temas. Más recientemente miles de niños han muerto y continuan muriendo en los conflictos armados de Africa, como los del Congo y Ruanda. José Antonio.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Sep 3rd 2009

Que buena noticia que la culpa fue del Toti y no de nuestro ilustre JA. Ahora si que no tenemos mas problemas porque a el Toti se lo comio un babalao. What a releif. Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Sep 3rd 2009

Por amor de Dios Yolanda, como has permitido que se diviertan tanto sin mi. Los dejo solos un ratico y se forma el ti tin go. Niños orden, relajo con orden. Que ni con tres cursos de speed reading puedo keep us con todo esto. De quien fue la culpa por fin, de Jose Antonio?

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Sep 3rd 2009

Yolanda, I love you. No puedo estar en todas, aunque creeme que trato.

Message by Marcos F. Pinedo | Sep 3rd 2009

<< Prev Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 Next >>

Leave a message for Yolanda

Your message
Your name
Your e-mail