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:

Maria del Carmen Perez Cancelas (Romanach)

General Information
Current Name
Carmencita Romanach
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Maria del Carmen Perez Cancelas (Romanach)
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Thursday, October 19, 1961
Relocated To
Haiti Pedro Pan
Maria del Carmen has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Maria del Carmen's Story

Today, October 19th, 2011 marks a very important milestone in my life. On a day like this, fifty years ago, I arrived at the Miami Airport with my two younger brothers, Raul and Carlos.

I would be ...

Click here to read the full story

Maria del Carmen's News Feed

Leave a public message for Maria del Carmen.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Next >>

Maria del Carmen has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Jul 17th 2014

Historic Designation St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church: According to an article written by Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh in 1971 titled Cuban Refugee Children, on December 25th, 1960 he was praying to find accommodations for the first Pedro Pan children that would start coming the next day. His prayers were answered when he saw the Assumption Academy, a boarding school for girls and decided to stop by and request help from Sister Elizabeth, the Director of the school. Sister Elizabeth said later that she could not deny such a request on Christmas day. This was the place where the first Pedro Pan found shelter that Christmas of 1960. The Assumption Academy Chapel (now St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church) needs our support to achieve the Historic Designation that would preserve it as part of our Pedro Pan legacy. To support the Historic Designation of St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church, please attend the Hearing: When: Thursday, July 25th Time: 2 pm Where: City Hall Coconut Grove, 3500 Pan American Dr. If you can't attend the Hearing and wish to support the Historic Designation please call the commissioners before July 25th or send them an email today with the following message: YES! I support the Historic Designation of St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church. Don't forget to sign the email with your name/address/phone. Here are the Commissioner's email and phone numbers: Francis Suarez 305 250 5420- Frank Carollo 305 250 5380- Marc Sarnoff 305 250 5333- Michelle Spence Jones 305 250 5390- Willy Gort 305 250 5430-

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Jul 23rd 2013

Maria del Carmen has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Apr 3rd 2013

Buenos dias Carmen, yo llegue a los estados unidos en sept 1961 tenia 17 anos. me alegro que se encuentra bien

Message by Fernando B. Menendez Balseiro | Feb 23rd 2013

Your story, like many others, is very similar to mine. I also attended el colegio Nuestra Senora de Lourdes en la Vibora with my two other sisters, Mary Lourdes and Delia Maria. The nuns used to refer to us as the "ramitos". My oldest sister, Mary Lourdes, was 14 1/2 years old when she left Cuba. It was a pleasure to have read your story. Marcia "Caridad"

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Feb 23rd 2013

The unveiling of the Florida City marker and street dedication last Friday was a very nice and significant event. Good job, OPPG!

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Nov 22nd 2012

Maria del Carmen has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Nov 20th 2012

On this site, which was officially known as the Florida City Shelter of the Catholic Welfare Bureau’s Cuban Children’s Program, thousands of Operation Pedro Pan children found refuge from Communist Cuba between 1961 and 1966. Operation Pedro Pan was conceived and organized by Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh of the Archdiocese of Miami and James Baker, headmaster of Ruston Academy in Havana, Cuba, at the request of parents who sought to prevent Communist indoctrination of their children. It was financed largely by the United States Government with full support of the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, and was supervised by the State of Florida. Between December 1960 and October 1962, over 14,000 Pedro Pan children arrived in South Florida. The Florida City Shelter was the largest of the Operation’s facilities in the state. It housed girls 5-19 years old and boys under 13 who lived in home units under the care of exiled Cuban couples who served as house parents. Its day-to-day operations were managed by Catholic priests and Sisters of St. Philip Neri. Many Operation Pedro Pan children went on to plant deep roots in the region and made significant contributions to Florida and the nation. A FLORIDA HERITAGE LANDMARK SPONSORED BY OPERATION PEDRO PAN GROUP, INC. AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE 2012

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Nov 18th 2012

Maria del Carmen has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Nov 18th 2012

Memorial Mass for Msgr. Bryan O. Walsh Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 Time: 7 p.m. Place: St. Michael Catholic Church 2987 West Flaggler St. Miami, Fl Please join us as in this Memorial Mass to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of his passing.

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Dec 13th 2011

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Next >>

Leave a message for Maria del Carmen

Your message
Your name
Your e-mail