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:

Irma Sofia Aguero Lopez

General Information
Current Name
Irma Sofia Crist
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Irma Sofia Aguero Lopez
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Friday, July 20, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With
Sivilla family

Irma Sofia's Story

Born in Camaguey, an only child. I attended "El colegio Teresiano" until it was closed around March 1961. While waiting for my visa, my mom kept me busy by taking English classes. I remember my da...

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Message by martha lopez | Feb 19th 2014

Irma Aguero- Hola esta es Amparito Mendigutia, que linda foto de tu familia, aunque es del 2009 te ves feliz.

Message by Amparo O Mendigutia Martin | Mar 1st 2013


Message by MARTHA LOPEZ PLEGUEZUELOS | Jul 6th 2012

Hi Cuqui, I missed seeing you at the reunion. I hope all is well with you. Keep in touch

Message by Niurka A Strong | Nov 15th 2010

Hola Irma, el otro dia vi unas fotos divinas de tus nietas con batas iguales. Espero que estes planeando venir para la reunion de noviembre 12-14. Cariños,

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Aug 27th 2010

Hi Irma, no se si te conteste, pero si me acuerdo perfectamente de ti, espero verte pronto. Un beso y gracias por escribirme, tu hermanita PP. Sil

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Aug 21st 2010

Hola Cuqui.. que alegria saber de ti.. el otro dia me encontre con Esperaza Pintado que esta loca por saber de ti... Nosotros estamos bien.. de ti se por silvia.. y nunca olvido los buenos ratos que hemos pasado juntas.. un beso Araceli

Message by Araceli Luaces-prenat | Jul 28th 2010

I have been trying to find Juanita Gonzales for over a year. Her brother Diego found me on this site and emailed me three days ago. Here is the email he sent. I will post the pictures on my profile. Hola Niurka, The other day curiosity took me to the Pedro Pan Miami Herald web site and while searching a few known names which I still remembered, including that of my sister Juanita, I came across the fact that there were four ladies that had tried to contact her including you. Well here are the facts of why she has been unable to respond to any request. “I am my sisters’ voice.” Her name is Juanita (Gonzalez, maiden name) Sainz. I believe she shared the same home with you in Florida City. My sister no longer has cognitive awareness. A few years back she suffered a stroke due to some unknown brain conditions at the time, which left her progressively, in a matter of speaking in a vegetative state. She is presently located at the Waterford Convalescent Center in Hialeah. I do not see her as often as I should and when I do, it is questionable whether she recognizes me or not. Her husband Gilberto continues almost on a daily basis to visit and check on her and some of the nurses, claim that she recognizes him. Part of the reason I do not see her very often is the fact that I live in Indiana, well at least 6 months out of the year, the other 6, I spend in Florida (snow bird) and that’s when I take the time to visit her. As you can see, I have to apologize to have used this medium as a sort of catharsis. I have never put this into words or thought much about it, I just took it for granted. Life is always throwing us curve balls, and it is a matter of weather with swing or choke. Well included you can see some of the pictures of which I’m sure you will remember. I have more bright memories of my sister that I could share with you; it all has not been gloom and doom. She married twice and had two daughters from her first marriage, both living in Florida. Her last job was as a secretary for the Florida State Police Highway Department in Broward County. Please, would you be so kind to pass this along to the other ladies, as you probably already know who they are. Enough for now and looking forward to your response. Thanks Diego

Message by Niurka A Strong | Jun 15th 2010

Irma Sofia has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jun 5th 2010

Irma Sofia- te acuerdas de los Barrera en Hialeah? Ito e Ita, wow como ha llovido yo vivo en San Antonio, Tx, sabes quien soy? Amparito Mendigutia-Rivera

Message by Amparo O Mendigutia Martin | Apr 28th 2010

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