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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Hola Paco Estas seguro que es la 87 y la 12. Ahi esta Walmart, please cheque porque creo que es en la 84. Dejame saber. Carinos

Message by Silvia E Portu | Sep 16th 2009

Hola Paco; Gracias por escribir y por los momentos en que me puse a recordar nuestras andanzas en los Maristas. Voy hacer todo lo posible en asistir al desayuno del proximo sabado, asi que alli nos veremos para recordar, un abrazo Santiago Urtiaga

Message by Santiago J Urtiaga Varela | Sep 14th 2009

Paco, gracias por escribirme. Fue un placer conocerte. Tienes razon, he estado escondido, eso me pasa por ser de Versalles como Fernando. Recuerdos, Marcos

Message by Marcos F. Pinedo | Sep 13th 2009

Paquito, dejate de pedir flanes por ahi, que se lo digo a Cuqui......

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Sep 12th 2009

Paco: La verdad que usted si es una persona decente. Mientras otros aprovechan de que duermo para despretigiarme diciendo calumnias de mi, usted por lo menos me celebro mis flanes. Muchas gracias!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 12th 2009

Bueno, Paco, ya te habrás dado cuenta que hay ciertos personajes en esta colección de personajes quienes, como bien dice Silvia, forman un revolú cada vez que meten la cuchapatareta. Y nadie se explica como se las arregla para enredarse con los villaperlisureños... Me he fijado tambien que si no mete chivos mete terneros en el bembé.¡Mira que hay cosas en la vida! Es una suerte que un caballero de buena cepa cienfueguera como tú pueda aclarar, con delicadeza, los revolús que forman algufernandunos. Su co-perlisureña, yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Sep 8th 2009

Paco Gracias por venir al rescate con lo de el ternero. Todos los dias Fernando, forma un revolu diferente, y eso que hoy esta rezando, Carinos

Message by Silvia E Portu | Sep 8th 2009

Paco, thank you for solving the grand mystery of the day. Guillermo

Message by Guillermo R Paz Vazquez | Sep 8th 2009

Paco: Menos mal que soluciono el misterio del mensaje de Fernando. Tengo a Guillermo en el telefono que se ha psaod el dia traumatizado ya que el no esta acostumbrado a que le digan 'decente'...Ya la Santa Carmen te comentara mas despues que salga de Misa ya que si lo hace antes, no va a poder comulgar.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 8th 2009

Wow, what a game, go canes. this is the beginning of the new era.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Sep 8th 2009

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