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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Gracias,mi hermano!

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | May 26th 2010

Francisco F has updated their profile.

Status update | May 20th 2010

Paquito, que fotos tan buenas! A mi tambien me encanto la de los cuatro anos, que monada.... Pero la del profile de Cuqui con Uds dos jovencitos esta preciosa! Te la comiste con esas fotos!

Message by Carmencita Romanach | May 20th 2010

Paco me encantaron las fotos, la de los cuatro años esta "priceless".

Message by Carmen Valdivia | May 20th 2010

Francisco F has uploaded new photos.

Status update | May 20th 2010

Paco: No te preocupes que tu eres el unico decente que nos invito. De acuerdo a Fernando, las 'tinkerbells' fueron las que nos dejaron fuera y encima de eso, una de ellas nos restrego su foto con el mojito al lado. Yes, I got the pics..they were great...thank you

Message by Susy Rodriguez | May 19th 2010

Francisco F says: Susy y Fernando. yo si los invite y Susy me dijo que ellla habia venido por el dia de las madres y Fernando nunca me contesto.

Status update | May 18th 2010

Paco: Gracias por tu mensaje. Menos mal que alguien se acordo de nosotros dos. Por lo que veo, 'las muchachitas' ni nos mencionaron algo de la fiesta parece que para que no fueramos. Tu si eres una persona decente!!! Un abrazo para Cuqui y para ti!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | May 16th 2010

Francisco F says: Susy y Fernando, los vamos a estrañar esta noche en la fiesta. Espero verlos pronto. Saludos para los dos. Paco

Status update | May 15th 2010

Como les fue a ustedes en el Desayuno este Sabado? Ojala que la distancia no fuera tanto, me encantaria ir a uno de las tantas actividades que hacen en el viejo Miami. Dejame salir de la segunda cirujia este Viernes, recuperarme...y tengo que darme una vuelta por Miami. No puedo dejarlos solos a ti y a Charles. Tengo que enderezarlos un poco. Pepe Pinon

Message by Jose A Pinon More | May 10th 2010

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