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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HOLA...por favor necesito saber si en este network de los Pedro Panes hay alguno que vive en LAS VEGAS en la actualidad o alguno que conocen a otros que vivan por LAS VEGAS delen mi numero de celular 702-502-6444 ya que yo estoy por estos rumbos y me gustaria reunirnos y conocernos y quizas para juntos poder ir a la reunion del 26 de septiembre..please es urgente..gracias ILEANA/MINICO

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Sep 6th 2009

Hola Juanita: I actually grew up in both Chicago and Skokie. I attended St. Peters and St. Jerome grade schools and St. Scholastica Academy for Girls for High School. However, my best friends growing up lived near Broadway. They were Luisa Bringas, Esther Garces and Betty and Martha Medina. I also worked at Dominicks on Broadway along with my brother and cousins during high school. Anyhow, I left Chicago in 1980 and have been living in Texas ever since.

Message by Hortensia M. Williams | Sep 5th 2009

Hola Juanita como estas?? Oye corazon tu tendras la direccion del campamento de Florida City ?? Si lo tienes me lo puedes enviar te lo voy a agradecer..gracias..

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Sep 4th 2009

Les quiero saludar a cada uno de uds desde aca Las Vegas. Gracias a Dios llegue ayer y aun no he salido; saben que se toma un dia adaptarse a un nuevo horario, pero no obstante ya manana si Dios quiere empezaremos a salir...los quiero e inviten mas Pedro Paneros a entrar a grupo..Bendiciones.. ileana/Minico

Message by Ileana Arriola (Minico) | Sep 1st 2009

Juanita,Hace rato que no se de ti. Yo tengo el telefono de mi trabajo en mi profile. Si puedes llamame "Quiero Pagarte" y tomarme un cafe contigo. Carinos MELVIN

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Aug 27th 2009

Por supuesto son inofensivos y ademas buena gente y simpaticos!

Message by Carmencita Romanach | Aug 21st 2009

Hola,Juanita: "Surfing" through the day's messages I just saw the one you wrote to Carmencita and recognized the quote as something she wrote to me a while back. To tell you the truth, the thing about chalecos blindados started as an inside joke among some guys and some of us picked up on it and jumped in. I haven't got a clue as to how and why that got started, but it sounded pretty funny to me. I am making plans to go to your party. With my mother's health being so delicate I may not be able to leave her by that time, but I'm sure gonna try, con o sin el chaleco, blindado o de telaraña. Porque tengo unas ganas de verlos a todos !!! Ademas, necesito una infusión de cubanería, un espeso batido de mamey y una buena sopita de plátano verde. Dicen que por Miami se encuentra todo éso. Con el abrazo que espero darte en persona, Yolanda

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Aug 20th 2009

Hi Juanita, I have been meaning to write to you for a long time now. I am from Santa Clara, but my father and his family were from the area of Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad, a place very dear to me. I am very exited about the reunion that you and Fernando are organizing and I commend you for it. I would like to bring to your attention, however, the fact that this site has become somewhat of a playground for those of us that use it daily and that you should not take anything that you read here seriously. In particular, there has been for sometime now a running joke about the need to wear chalecos blindados to the reunion. Please don't take that to mean that anyone is making fun of the people that are going to the reunion for, by the most part, it is the people that are going that are making the comments. In this site we make fun of ourselves, as well as of each other, after all we are Pedro Panners reliving the childhood that was robbed from us. Please join us in the fun and camaraderie that we have just discovered and now cherish. Your Pedro Pan Sister, Carmen

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Aug 20th 2009

Hola Juanita yo tambien estuve mucho tiempo en Sancti Spiritus alli yo era alumno de la Academia Remington que estaba a la salida del pueblo y que Zoraida y Conrado eran duenos, todavia me recuerdo de las guaguas "mandarinas" y las iglesias al igual que el parque y el puente que podian volar aviones por debajo de el, creo que era el puente de ZAZA del Medio. Henry

Message by Henry/Enrique Rodriguez (EL MUSICO) | Aug 17th 2009

Juanita como estan saliendo GUAJIROS que estaban escondido antes todo el mundo era de la HABANA y ahora mira cuanta jente se han aparecido de TUINICU. y yo que pense que ITABO en MATANZAS nadie sabia de ese pueblo. nada mas que el PESCAO Y YO. BYE SEE YOU SOON FERNANDO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Aug 17th 2009

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