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: Si; esos son los dos hermanos. Paco y Mario- We the youngest kid in the bunch look up to them. Manuel- Yo tambien atendi St John Junior High en Florida City. Estaba en las clases cuando el asesinato de JFK. Eran monjas de la Caridad las que corrian la escuela. Me acuerdo de Sister Sarah Marie. Una vez le dio un galletazo a Mario- ellos se escapaban de clases para 'ligar' a las alumnas que alli tambien atendian clases-pero separadas de los ninos- y parece que Mario ' got caught.' Manuel

Message by Manuel E Gutierrez Arnao | May 20th 2009

Que popular eres, Paquito. Recibes mas emails que el Administrador del database. Gracias por embullarme a registrarme. Saludos, Delfin

Message by Delfin Diaz | May 19th 2009

Paco, estoy muy seguro de que nosotros estudiabamos en Los Maristas de Cienfuegos en aquellos tiempos. Yo sali al dia siguiente el 7 de Agosto del 62, tambien a Matecumbe. Se que perteneces a Pedro Pan Org de donde yo tambien soy miembro. Un saludo.

Message by Lazaro A Alvarez Campos | May 19th 2009

Francisco: Del Paco que me recuerdo y su hermano Mario-los dos bien grande,-y con tendencias de 'gansters 'que les hicieron causas las autoridades locales por petty theft, y meterse con las chicas locales, ese no eres tu.Ellos eran dos hermanos, Paco y Mario que ' todo el mundo respetaba. Su amigo, Manuel el de 'los espejuelitos ' prieto tambien.

Message by Manuel E Gutierrez Arnao | May 19th 2009

Favor confirma si eres el famoso PACO "El Terneron" de Kendall. Estuve en Kendall en el 1962 y comparti momentos tristes y alegres. Todos teniamos nonbretes que nos unia mas. Yo no me acuerdo de los nombres regulares pero si los nicknames..Un abrazo Mario "El Oso"

Message by Mario B. Gonzalez | May 19th 2009

paco tu nombre me suena y se que te conozco yo soy de cienfuegos y estuve contigo en kendall y opa locka

Message by Raimundo Espinosa | May 19th 2009

Gracias por recordarme Matecumbe,Kendall ,Opa-locka, Florida City. Yo llegue Agosto 3 1962.Tenia 12 entonces y creo recordar que estuve en Matecumbe un corto tiempo. Alli cerca habia un lago y a nosotros nos llevaban alli a nadar. De Matecumbe me trasladaron lla sea a Opa-locka o Florida City no recuerdo bien la sequencia y en los campamentos estuve hasta el 1965.En el 65 me reuni con mi madre y entonces fuimos relocalizados a Los Angeles, California. Esa era la poliza hacia nosotros en aquel tiempo. Gracias por las memorias! Manuel Esteban Gutierrez

Message by Manuel E Gutierrez Arnao | May 19th 2009

Hola Paco y donde esta Cuqui que no la encuentro Un abrazo para ambos Juanita.

Message by Juanita Garcia | May 18th 2009

Es usted el famoso Paquito, miembro de la junta directiva de la organizacion Pedro Pan? Le saludo desde China, Jorge V Reyes.

Message by Jorge Vicente Reyes Mardones | May 16th 2009

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