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

Leave a public message for Juana (Juanita ).

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Hola Juanita. Fue un gusto conocerte y gracias por saludarme por este medio. Esto del data base es maravilloso. Jorge te aprecia mucho. Espero verte pronto. Tu historia es conmovedora. Ya ves, ahora eres una muñeca sonriente. Saludos, Faride.

Message by Faride Reyes Mardones | May 20th 2009

El apellido de Alicita no es Trelles? Mary

Message by Maria Petronila Hernandez Mills | May 19th 2009

Hi Juanita, gracias por el mensaje, a Cuqui no la han puesto en le database todavia no se porque. Vas mañana a la toma de posesion de la junta directiva de OPPG. Saludos Paco y Cuqui

Message by Frank ( Paco ) Echeverria | May 18th 2009

Hi Juanita, me encanta lo q hicieron con la pagina!

Message by Marcia Caridad Ramos Gonzalez | May 18th 2009

Juanita ,yo no apraesco en el data base ese Luis Jimenez Carbonell es otra persona Luis Carbonell

Message by Luis Carbonell | May 18th 2009

Hola Juanita. Soy Rosa M. Tejeiro (Venezuela) Recuerdas? Sigo en Venezuela (with difficulties)!! Recién ví tu tarjeta de presentación que me dejaste durante la última reunión en el barbecue en Kendall. Me enteré (por Angel) que Ely había muerto. Increíble. Estaré pronto por Miami, y me encantaría verte o hablar contigo. De paso, no aparezco en la lista, y soy una de las primeras.... Saludos, Rosa

Message by Rosa Maria Tejeiro Real | May 17th 2009

Hola Juanita es Mary de Tuinucu! No estoy en el database todavia. Busque, y busque y nada. Les mande un message, vamos a ver si me encuentran! Carinos, Mary

Message by Maria Petronila Hernandez Mills | May 17th 2009

Juana I que paso que la gente de la 15 Rd no aparecemos en la lista

Message by Luis Carbonell | May 17th 2009

Hola Juanita és con una profunda magoa que ye lido tu historia, tu país que yo amo y que tengo amigos mios, un dia temperano sera mui bueno y de liberdad pata todos.

Message by Paulo | May 17th 2009

Juanita I found you here too...I do not know how to make friends with you here so look for me and invite or whatever this is great..ya era hora mi hermana

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | May 17th 2009

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