Cuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles by Janey Fugate jfugate@elnuevoherald.com 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. http://www.miamiherald.com Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/26/v-print/4257131/cuban-immigrants-share-precious.html#storylink=cpy

Carlos M Nieto Eire

Carlos M's Story

My brother Tony and I were separated upon arrival on April 6, 1962: he went to Kendall, I went to Florida City. After 3 weeks at the camps, Tony went to live with an American foster family in Miami (...

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Carlos, On page 1 of "Learning to Die in Miami" you mention Lou and Robie DelRiego Martinez. They were our little boys and refugees in '62 (we had 7 little girls of our own then) . We are in contact with them now and will have a big family reunion this summer.

Message by mary A Wohlford | Jan 6th 2014

Estoy buscando a mi unico primo Miguel Angel Collazo su padre se llamaba Cirilo Collazo Rodriguez, hermano de mi padre Calixto. lo enviaron por Operacion Pedro Pan y ahora es que tengo oportunidad para saber de el y su familia, hemos seguido supuesta ruta de vida en USA sin resultados, se marcho el 11 de Junio de l961 el mismo dia que contraje matrimonio, quisiera por esta via saber de el. lo agradeceria muchisimo.

Message by Dalia Collazo Jorda | Aug 4th 2013

Carlos, I have purchased both books here in Terre Haute, Indiana. Excellent record for future generations. I wish you the best, PP brother. I have written my first 34 poems; every time that my head is ready to explode like a pressure cooker, when I start remembering those days, I write in order to relieve my ganglia. Sincere regards, Luis Crispin Perez Barrios

Message by Luis Crispin Perez Barrios | Apr 3rd 2013

My name is Barbara Tuero Jimenez, that was my name. Now am Barbara Fernandez. I visited this site out of nostalgia since I will be having my 50th anniversary on Sep. 8. I arrived at Florida City at the age of 10. I was there for almost 9 months. Is to my surprise that I found you when am reading your second book, "Learning to Die in Miami" Is just amazing just as good as the first one. There are so many of your experiences that I can relate to. Thank you for writing these 2 books. I love this country and I'm very proud to be a Cuban-American, but I often wonder what if we had not come to Florida City? Many times I do feel having split personality. Again thank you.

Message by Barbara E Tuero Jimenez | Aug 20th 2012

Carlos! Ahora es que me doy cuenta que tu y yo, ademas de estar relacionados por tu conocimiento de mi padre,hermano y familia; ESTUVIMOS EN FLORIDA CITY durante el mismo tiempo. Te imaginas? Que cerca y al mismo que lejos hemos estado toda nuestras vidas. I find it amazing but I'm a little melodramatic...

Message by Nieves Aulet | Jul 1st 2012

Your books to me are fascinating. Your recollection of events is absolutely amazing and I love your sense of humor throughout it all.

Message by Emy Botet | Jun 11th 2012

Hi, I love your book, "Learning to Die in Miami, I am only half way thru it, and it goes from feeling sad, to laughing my 'heart' out. did you really learn to speak Yiddish, OY Vay !

Message by Faustino Amaral | Aug 17th 2011

HI, CARLOS. YOUR NEW BOOK, "LEARNING TO DIE IN MIAMI" IS A BIT DEPRESSING, BUT IT TELLS IT LIKE IT WAS FOR MANY OF US AND THE AMARGURAS THAT WE HAD TO ENDURE. IN THE END, WE HAVE SURVIVED AND FEEL BLESSED TO BE HERE. AND ALWAYS THANK OUR PARENTS FOR PUTTING US ON THAT AIRPLANE THAT GAVE US FREEDOM TO THINK AND EXPRESS OURSELVES. YOU HAVE THIS WONDERFUL GIFT OF WRITING AND WE THANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH US. KEEP WRITING AND MAKING US FLASH BACK TO THE PAST AND THEN RETURN TO THIS ETERNAL PRESENT THAT WE NOW CAN ENJOY IN THE U.S.A. CUBA WILL SOME DAY BE FREE, BEFORE WE KNOW IT, IT WILL HAPPEN!! LOOK AT THE COUNTRIES LIKE EAST GERMANY, HUNGARY, CZCHEK REPUBLIC,,,AND NOW THEY HAVE DEMOCRACY. AND LOOK AT SPAIN AND HOW THEY ARE KICKING ZAPATERO ON THE BUTT! EL PUEBLO SIEMPRE VENCERA. TAKE CARE, J. CASTAÑO

Message by JESUS CASTAÑO | Jun 2nd 2011

Carlos, Mil gracias por escribir los libros de tus viajes en la vida. Waiting for Snow... was good, but I really loved ...Die in Miami because I found so many parallels. Both took me a while to read - mucha tristeza conjunto con las sonrisas. I so wish I could give voice to my own experiences, but anytime I've sat down to write about it I've been unable to. I so appreciate you for doing it, not only for yourself, but for all of us. Dios te bendiga, mi hermano, Maria Elena Juarez

Message by Maria Elena Juarez | May 10th 2011

Tus libros estan maravillos, me encanta el sentido del humor que expresas dentro del relato de tus recuerdos. Tu persona refleja seriedad pero a la vez no has perdido "el nino" dentro de ti.

Message by Emy Botet | Apr 14th 2011

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