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:

Mariano P Barreiro Garcia

General Information
Current Name
Mariano P Barreiro
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Mariano P Barreiro Garcia
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Monday, August 6, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Matecumbe

Mariano P's Story

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

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Mariano me alegro mucho en ponerme en contacto contigo. Espero que sigamos esta comunicacion. Yo me comunico mucho con Jose Marquez. Nosotros seguimos siendo amigos despues de Matecumbe. Mi cellular es 3362933535. En estos momentos estoy de vacaciones en Montana. I would love to talk to you. Rodriguez Chirino

Message by george n Rodriguez Chirino | Jul 9th 2009

It was nice to hear from you yesterday. My younger son, Alain, graduated from FIU with a major in theater and he is moving to LA at the end of the year with his girlfriend,who is also a theater major. Therefore,I'd be a frequent LA visitor.I hope we could get together someday then, to talk about the good and no so good old times. Actually,my name has always been Roberto Lazaro but my cuban passport had the names reversed and I got stock with Lazaro at Matecumbe and then in Lincoln. It really doesn't matter.Un abrazo

Message by Lazaro Roberto | May 29th 2009

Mariano, saludos de Nebraska, Julio Chang esta aqui in Lincoln visitando, te manda saludos. Rene Ojeda

Message by Rene Julian Ojeda Rodriguez | May 28th 2009

Mariano.Un saludo para ti, he sabido de ti por Cossio. Me he acordado de los tiempos en Cristo Rey,del King restaurant en el downtown con el chino Chang, los juegos de basketball del Pius y muchos otros recuerdos.Un abrazo

Message by Roberto Lazaro Mesa Hernandez | May 28th 2009

Ok..I did it. I registered.

Message by Ramon I Reina Bordallo | May 27th 2009

Hola Mariano: Que bueno que al fin tenemos la oportunidad de encontrar y comunicarnos acon toda esa gente que fue parte de nuestras vidas por tanto tiempo. Espero te acuerdes de mi, yo te recuerdo con mucho carino. Comunicate conmigo, para saber de ti.

Message by Silvia Portu | May 21st 2009

Mariano, que epoca mas triste en ese Campamento ! Siempre recuerdo con cariño el apoyo emocional que recibi de ti hasta que sali para el Foster Home en Nueva York.

Message by Jorge Viera | May 20th 2009

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