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:

Manuel Perez Capon

General Information
Current Name
Manuel Perez Capon
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Manuel Perez Capon
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Monday, April 23, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Matecumbe

Manuel's Story

I thought Helena Montana was going to be Heaven just by getting out of Matecumbe. Well, I and who knows who else, did not find it that way. My experiences, many were sad and threatening. Living und...

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Leave a public message for Manuel.

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Manny----conde diable estas metido??? Es Oreste....tu amigo de Helena, Montana....llamame (305) 968-4249 Sigo viviendo en la misma casa (remember you came to investigate a robbery) when your daughter was superrrr young...Call me

Message by Orestes Rodriguez Lopez | Mar 3rd 2013

Hello Manny , yes i do live in Sevilla, Spain and also iam in Facebook is a matter of fact that i had just send you a message in facebook after talking to Manny Gutierrez by phone, well kid bye now , un abrazo " El Frances"

Message by Eddie Enrique Fernandez Tramezaygues | Jan 24th 2013

Manuel says: Carlos Morales Gomez , mi primo, me dejo un mensaje aqui tratando de localizarme, aparentemente llego a USA. Como se sabe como lo hizo o donde?

Status update | Jan 24th 2013

Manuel says: To Carlos Morales, call 678-583-4111, YES you are my cousin. Hope this gets to you, just saw the message you posted 21 hours ago

Status update | Oct 4th 2012

Manuel says: To Carlitos Morales Gomez, si soy tu primo y primo de Lydia y the Margot y sobrino de tia Manuela. Llamame 678-583-4111

Status update | Oct 4th 2012

Quizas seamos familia, si su mama se llamaba Irene, Ud es primo de mi mama Margarita Gomez Capon

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Oct 4th 2012

I remember how bad you drove the sometime bus when Marti couldn't !! But you took us 15 + blocks away for breakfast & dinner at Carroll College Commons!

Message by Nick Perez-Caurel | Aug 30th 2012

Thank You for keeping it real. Marta Valero

Message by Marta S Castillo Valero | May 8th 2012

Hello Manny, i was a the carpa of Alejandro from july 1962 till nov/62, the kids used to callme "El Frances", your history is very much like a lot of us, we all have a lot to tell and while some like me chose no to tell the all history i do congratuled you, i can not really remember much of it anyhow, we're the same age, my oldest daugther has been a metro-dade police officer for the last 18 year and my son inlaw is in special forces too for a very long time, i have keep in touch with some guys from Matecumbe but unfortunate like i told you before i can't remember much, well kid it's been good to hear from you, if you do remember me , please let me know, un abrazo "El Frances"

Message by Eddie Enrique Fernandez Tramezaygues | Nov 14th 2011

Manuel has updated their profile.

Status update | Nov 14th 2011

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