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:

Raul Gonzalez Del Toro

General Information
Current Name
Raul Gonzalez Del Toro
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Raul Gonzalez Del Toro
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Saturday, September 30, 1961
Relocated To
Kendall / St Marys Home for Boys Portland Or.

Raul's Story

I arrived in Miami, but was quickly moved to a Home for Boys in Portland Or. The following year was a living hell. Twenty years ago, I put those memories in a book. The book has been edited, but not p...

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Raul's News Feed

Leave a public message for Raul.

Hola, Raúl. ¿Cómo estás? Me ha llegado un recorte del periódico The Oregonian fechado 8 de marzo de 1962, con la fotografía de los diez niños cubanos que se hallaban en St. Marys Home for Boys. Lamentablemente, sólo da sus nombres, pero sin los apellidos. ¿Por casualidad, recuerdas los apellidos de algunos de los muchachos? Mi dirección electrónica es Mil gracias.

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Jul 4th 2014

Raul again my email is Raimundo Espinosa

Message by Raimundo M Espinosa Alvarez | Aug 10th 2010

Raul I send you a message the other day hope you are ok waiting for your answer Raimundo

Message by Raimundo M Espinosa Alvarez | Aug 10th 2010

I just read your story it sounds horible I was in Portland Oregon in a foster home for 3 years I knew there were 2 or 3 more foster homes but not a Home for Boys where was it located did Fr. Park have anything to do with it.You an reach me at my email

Message by raimundo espinosa | Aug 1st 2010

Hello Raúl. Espero leer to libro. José Raúl

Message by José Raúl Montes Sori | Jul 26th 2010

Hello Raúl... I am sorry that you had to endure so much. I am here for you brother if you want to talk. My phone and e-mail address are on my page. God Bless.

Message by Ozzie Mora | Jul 19th 2010

Welcome, Raul to our website. I hope the experience on this site will be a healing and enjoyable one for you. God's blessings be with you.

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Jul 19th 2010

Welcome to the website Raul, I hope to one day be able to read your story. God Bless you too, Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Jul 18th 2010

Raul has updated their profile.

Status update | Jul 17th 2010

Raul has joined the Pedro Pan Network. Please welcome them!

Status update | Jul 17th 2010

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