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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Francisco F has uploaded new photos.

Status update | May 30th 2011

Paco and Cuqui: My thoughts and prayers are with you today. May the Lord receive Ramito in His arms and give you comfort. Un beso y abrazo

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Mar 18th 2011

Mis hermanos que estuvieron conmigo en Kendall y Opa-Locka, los otros dias fui a visitar a Miguel y Rosa Estades y en mi profile puse unas fotos de ellos para si las quieren ver Saludos

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | Feb 13th 2011

Francisco F has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Feb 12th 2011

Francisco, estoy seguro que estube durante tu tiempo, el problema siempre fue que nunca me quede el ano completo. No me acuerdo del Hermano que nos daba clases. Fui acolito, y estaba en los mayores en el internado. Espero que no fuistes con quien tuve una pelea semiapotisica en el primer piso. El muchacho y yo empezamos en el corredor y terminamos en una aula, moviendo escritorios de una manera un poco brusca. Si pudiera ver fotos de los estudiantes, te puedo decir con quien estuve. Me acuerdo mas de los internos como grupo y mucho menos de los companeros de aula que tuve. Gracias por la bienvenida.

Message by Dario J. Avello | Jan 6th 2011

Hi Paco, muchas cosas buenas para ti y para Cuqui en el año entrante. Ha sido un placer compartir con ustedes, bendiciones para los dos y que se repitan las reuniones tan buenas como las que tuvimos este año. Cariñoooooooos.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Dec 31st 2010

Paquito,thank you for sharing your photos...

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Dec 17th 2010

Francisco F has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Dec 16th 2010

Gracias, Paquito y Cuqui...ojala estubieramos mas cerca para hacer nuestro fiestin!!!! Hoy me salieron 5 canas mas! Besos.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Nov 28th 2010

Hola Paco nosotros los Pedro Pans de Fort Wayne Indiana y Miami queremos saber si tu tienes alguna informacion de Jose Sarmientos que esta en una foto contigo de Opalocka, gracias Henry

Message by Henry/Enrique Rodriguez (EL MUSICO) | Nov 24th 2010

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