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.

<< Prev 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 >>

08/20/09 Querida Hermana: Acabo de ver el Noticiero del 23.....dos DIGNAS REPRESENTACIONES de la mujer cubana. Gracias y que Dios las bendiga abundantemente. Un abrazo, Otmara Capote

Message by Otmara Capote | Aug 20th 2009

Maria del Carmen, gracias por el comentario de las fotos, pues seguire compartiendo mas con ustedes. Que bueno que tengo otra hermanita mas, saludes y bezos, Silvia Budejen

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Aug 20th 2009

Oigan Jose Antonio NO espero ni un dia para pegarme los tarros; ni con su poemita romantico ni na'de'so wowwww que FIEL son estos Pedro Pan?? MIren la pintura que le cojieron candente como cojieron al padre alberto... Me pesa la cabeza !! DE LOS TARROS!!!!

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Aug 20th 2009

Y el más cordial saludo para ti también, Carmencita. Por cierto, me podrías decir dónde conseguiste el chaleco blindado para la reunión de Fernando Collado, porque yo llevo días buscando uno de mi talla en Amazon y todavía no acabo de dar pie con bola. Me imagino que si no encuentro uno a tiempo me las tendré que arreglar con uno fabricado de yarey. Un cálido abrazo, José Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | Aug 19th 2009

Gracias a Ud. por darme la idea. Un abrazo Alberto

Message by Alberto Rafael Ferran | Aug 18th 2009

Thanks for your kind words Carmencita. I felt very brave once I got to the Orphanage, but those first few hours were a different story, as we say, me estaba ca-g-ndo...sorry, sometimes vulgarity surfaces just to illustrate a point... Have a great day and hope you hear from all your brothers and sisters a lot. I'm still hoping to find some friends from Marquette, but not having too much luck...maybe someday they'll surface. Abrasos y cariños, Robert

Message by Robert Victor Soler | Aug 18th 2009

Carmen: Ahora he sido yo la que he leido tu comentario a Jose Antonio. Si te gusta la psicología, apúntate a nuestras chácharas, que son muy iluminantes. Aunque ya hemos pasado a hablar de la poesía. Yo tambien estoy re-leyendo Man's Search for Meaning. Sin duda alguna es el libro que mas impacto ha hecho en mi vida. He leido que en una encuesta que hicieron a mucha gente notable preguntando por los libros que mas habian influenciado sus vidas, creo que el de Viktor Frankl apareció en las respuestas mas que ningun otro libro, o por lo menos en los 10 mas mencionados. Se lo recomiendo a todo el mundo. Yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Aug 17th 2009

Hi Carmen, thanks for your remarks about my story, actually the greek cook that father LaLiebre had hired, had not too many recipes that we boys liked, but we were in general consensus that we had to have rice and done the way we liked it...I had learned to make it as taught by my aunt America, and she also taught me other recipes, and if I may say so, I'm a very good cook and enjoy it, wich is sort of unusual for a "Cuban" man even though there are many of us who share that sentiment, we just don't want to look or appear to be sissy.... but that is not the only story that develop there, there was a time when I was placed temporarily in a foster home in Escanaba with the Sullivan family, they were three four brothers ranging from 21, 17,14 and the youngest was 7. The only one that liked me was the 17 year old one named Robert, just like me and who wanted to be a priest, so he had more compassion than his divorced mother and siblings. At the same time, my brother along with Mario Chapman had been placed in a foster home in the nearby town of Gladstone under the care of LaVerne Bryers. Needles to say, we were all unhappy, mistreated and homesick for the orphanage where the other cuban boys were, so one day I called my brother on the phone and told him my great escape secret, and I must have scared him because this escape was to take place in the middle of winter and we had even said our good byes in case I was found frozen by the side of the road. I was fortunately picked up on the road after walking for about 4 hours by a nice gentleman who was taking his 2 daughters to Marquette to see their cousin, who lived close to where the Orphanage was, so I made it in enough time to have dinner soon followed by a "descarga" by Fr LaLiebre for having done such a terrible thing by escaping the Sullivans; Once I explained to him what I was going through including the fact that Billy had tried to shoot me with a BB gun and instead shot his younger brother in the eye, whereupon their mother blamed me for the accident even though I was the intended victim, Fr LaLiebre understood and after he picked his lower jaw off the floor, he hugged me and welcomed me back to the Orphanage..later on that night, my little brother along with Mario, showed up, they also had escaped their imprisonment with the Bryers, who in turn kept all the money he and Mario had been saving from working on week ends as buss boys at the Elk's Lodge. We all have some stories to tell, and at the time, this story seemed funny, scary, heroic and full of bravado considering our age and the danger we expossed ourselves to by hitchickig in the middle of winter with a mountain of snow already on the road and banks and some more comming down all the time. There is a happy ending after all, and even though we were offered many more chances to go to other foster homes, we refussed each time, and Fr LaLiebre never argued back with us about that, he knew we had learned a lesson from a couple of bad experiences and we were a lot happier at the orphanage with our other brothers. Well, I guess you got an ear full, but in answer to your previous note, I would love to attend any social event that may develop here in the South, I don't see myself doing Chicago or anywhere up North in November...I'm going to Michigan in October for a wedding and so I'll have to take a shopping trip to Burlington Coat Factory and see if they have a circus tent size that I may fit in to staay warm. Cariños: Robert

Message by Robert Victor Soler | Aug 17th 2009

Buenos dias Carmencita.. Con respecto a la piscina. Cuando llegue y me encontre con un lugar tan diferente a lo que yo acostumbraba, acuando vi la piscina al otro dia en la manhanan inmediatamente dije esta piscina sera mi responsibilidad y desde ese momento fui yo el encargado de limpiar la piscin. Habia ya un muchacho encargado de limpiar esa piscina pero yo no le permiti que siguiera haciendolo. En realidad no sabia lo que me esperaba y me dije, por si acaso, la piscina es facil asi que esto es lo mio. Yo naci en La Habana, cerca del maleco. Estaba siempre en el mar. Asi que al ver la piscina me parecio que seria lo mas natural y lo cual tomaria menos esfuerzo..Y asi fue!! Un placer Carmenciata y si creo seria bueno que pusiera fotos de la reunion. Asi lo hare!!! Gracias por su sugerencia y espero todo bien por su mundo Alberto

Message by Alberto Rafael Ferran | Aug 17th 2009

Carmencita. Me ha encantado lo que me han contado del desayuno tu, Silvia, Carmen. De verdad que estuvo mi pensamiento ahí con ustedes. --Acerca de la reunión esa de los chalecos blindados, yo no he vuelto a oir mas nada ni he recibido ninguna invitación especial. Los jo-D-2-rs que escribian sobre éso ahora parece que se los tragó la tierra. A ver que pasa... esto es como un "whodonit" y la sorpresa todavía por venir. Tengamos paciencia. Cariños, Yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Aug 16th 2009

<< Prev 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