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:

Francisco F Echeverria Rabassa

General Information
Current Name
Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Francisco F Echeverria Rabassa
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Monday, August 6, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Matecumbe
Stayed With
Matecumbre, Kendall, Opa-Locka
Haiti Pedro Pan
Francisco F has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Francisco F's Story

Despues de irnos a despedir de nuestro padre a la carcel de Isla de Pinos, Fuimos de Cienfuegos para la Habana a un hotel donde nos encontramos por casualidad con el papa de los Hnos Ferrer (Jorge,Jul...

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Leave a public message for Francisco F.

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Francisco F says: OPPG va a tener un PICNIC Marzo 15 en Kendall Hammocks Park reserve a members@pedropan,org el costo es de $ 15

Status update | Feb 24th 2014

Francisco F says: muchas felicidades a todos mis hermanos y hermanas que la pasen en familia y que el año que viene sea mejor

Status update | Dec 24th 2013

Paquito quisiera si hay alguna otra reunion de los Peter Pan in Miami me lo dejaras saber pues trataria de ir. He perdido el contacto con las muchachitas de la casa de Velazco yo estube desde septiembre 5 1962 hata diciembre 29 1962 si sabes de alguien en esas fechas dejamelo saber. Carinos Lupe Casanova

Message by Lupe Casanova | Jan 5th 2013

Paquito, deseo los mismo para tí, Cuqui, y todos sus seres queridos. Muchos cariños.

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Dec 23rd 2011

Francisco F says: Quisiera desearles a todos mis hermanos y hermanas una Feliz Navidad llena de bendiciones y salud. Que el Señor nos colme de bendiciones en el proximo

Status update | Dec 23rd 2011

PAQUITO,que bueno que reportastes!. Que bueno que ya salistes de todo. Por aqui todo el mundo te quiere!Nos vemos el sabado?. Cariños......MELVIN

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Dec 15th 2011

Salud y Progreso en el 2012.

Message by Emy Botet | Dec 15th 2011

Francisco F says: Gracias a todos los que me han mantenido en sus oraciones, ya me siento mejor de la operacion sufrida hace dos semanas un abrazo

Status update | Dec 15th 2011

Francisco: Me he quedfado sirprendido al ver tus fotos. La foto de Halouver Beach y la de Homestead AFB son mis, y yo soy el que estoy con Saavedra y en la otra con los espejuelos en el centro de la foto. Estuvimos juntos en OpaLocka y tambien con Alvio Estrada que tengo dos fotos con el y el Hno Luis, quisiera poder comunicarme con el para enviarle las fotos. Yo trabajo para el Centers for Disease Control (CDC) en Atlanta, GA y el ano proximo me retiro y me voy para el sur de la Florida. Espero poder comicarnos. Ramon

Message by Ramon J Gordillo Romero | Nov 16th 2011

Hola francisco, soy Carolina Trujillo, Hija de Rene A. Trujillo, y acabo de leer algo que le dejaste escrito en este mismo medio hace un par de años... me gustaria ponerme en contacto contigo, pues e perdido el contacto con mucho de los amigos de mi padre y realmente me gustaría hacerte unas preguntas...

Message by carolina trujillo | Aug 17th 2011

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