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:

Juana (Juanita ) Díaz González

General Information
Current Name
Juanita Garcia
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Juana (Juanita ) Díaz González
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Saturday, May 5, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Haiti Pedro Pan
Juana (Juanita ) has volunteered to help the children of Haiti. Find out how you can help, too.

Juana (Juanita )'s Story

Mi hermano menor que yo llegamos a Miami 05/05/62 aun recuerdo ese dia como si fuese hoy.Ese ha sido y siempre sera el dia mas triste de mi vida,ya que en la mañana yo era una niña alegre,con familia ...

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Juana (Juanita )'s News Feed

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Juanita: Hacía mucho tiempo que por mis rodillas matulencas yo no bailaba tanto, pero en tu fiesta no me quedó mas remedio que entrar en la zandunga. Gracias a ti por organizar esa pachanguita donde la pasamos tan divertidos. Lo único malo fue que faltó Fernando. Aquí tengo las maraquitas y cuando las meneo me hacen recordar la fiesta de los CCC 2010 en casa de Juanita.

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Nov 22nd 2010

Juana (Juanita ) says: Gracias mil a todos los que nos acompañaron este fin de semana en la 5th Reunion de este vuestro grupo,, son Uds los que hacen posible que estas reuni

Status update | Nov 7th 2010

Juana (Juanita ) says: Pedro Pan C.C.C Group 5th Reunion Nov 5,6,7/10 en Miami. Mas informacion.Juanita Garcia,Julio Bosch o visita nuestra pagina en facebook.

Status update | Oct 14th 2010

Hola Juanita, gracias por el recordarme, definitivamente nos veremos Nov 5/6/7. saludos Hiram.

Message by Hiram Perez Blanco | Aug 7th 2010

De acuerdo contigo! No todos nosotros somos alegres....hay gente que se amargaron con la experiencia...por eso me da gusto cuando trato a alguien igual que yo...que nos quedamos jovencitas para siempre. La vida es tan corta! Hay que saber reirse de todo! Saludos a ti tambien.

Message by Emy Botet | Jun 28th 2010

Juanita, me encanta tu alegria! Gusto en verte en el importante no perder ese espiritu joven al pasar de los anos. Saludos.

Message by Emy Botet | Jun 28th 2010

Juanita tu vivistes con la familia Gordon? You tambien estaba con ellos depues que la familia Aguirregaviria se fue. Recuerdos, Loyda Lavandero Straub

Message by Loyda A Lavandero Aparicio | Jun 21st 2010

Hi Juani, recibi todas tus fotos de Tuinucu y la verdad que no reconoci muchos de los lugares pero al igual las disfrute mucho. Vi que Pily te mando una nota. Please, dale recuerdo de mi parte aunque yo no se si ella se acuerda de mi.

Message by Esther | Jun 7th 2010

Juanita, vi tu foto y te reconoci de la amistad en Chicago. No se si te acuerdas de mi. Ahora vivo en Orlando, Florida con mi familia. Pily

Message by Pilar Maria Penton Guiu | Jun 5th 2010

Oye Juanita, es Camaguey. Me enviaron un link o lo que sea para reconocerte como amiga y yo puse "refuse". Bueno, fue que aprete sin querer pero quise poner accept. Asi, que no te creas que soy un churroso o lo que sea, asi que enviame otra vez el link y entonces pondre "accept". Gracias y un fuerte abrazo. Camaguey (Reinaldo Alfonso, Kendall, 1961

Message by Reinaldo F Alfonso Madoz | Jun 3rd 2010

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