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:

Armando H Alvarez Silveira

General Information
Current Name
Armando H Alvarez Silveira
Current Location
United States of America
Name on Arrival
Armando H Alvarez Silveira
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Wednesday, January 24, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Florida City
Stayed With
Mr&Mrs Williams

Armando H's Story

I'am from Camaguey,I arrived in Miami on January 24,1962.Iwas sent to CWB Florida City until the March 1962 and I was sent to St Vincent's Home in Saginaw Michigan.The only name I remenber is of a b...

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Armando H's News Feed

Leave a public message for Armando H.

Hi armando, i'am mercedes herrero, I was your neighbor in camaguey, cuba, i lived in san rafael 520, next to ventura, i know you came here when you were a kid of about 8 years, it has been a long time, but i want you to know that i was a very good friend of your mother ana luisa, i would like to conact you and talk. bye.

Message by mercedes herrero | Jun 25th 2013

I think I better get my story straight before posting. I did go to the Senior Prom at Miami High with Miguel Pelayo--we were both seniors. We had a class together.

Message by Teresa C. P. Poldo Boleda | May 24th 2012

Oh, wow! I just read your story about remembering Miguel Pelayo and I remember him too. Yeah, I ran into him in high school in Miami and he invited to the prom (his senior prom while I was still a junior). I think I remember the name Rosendo Pena as well. Wish I could read/write more about that time long ago, but I have to go back to work. I will connect at a later time. Do you remember the Villa?

Message by Teresa C. P. Poldo Boleda | May 23rd 2012

Armando - We found Jose "El Gallego'. He's living in the Tampa area and recently joined our Pedro Pan network. Go to my profile to get his info. Hope to see you in November for the Pedro Pan 50th reunion.

Message by Angel Braulio Canete | Sep 9th 2010

Hi Armando, this is Jose Fernandez Barbas “El Gallego”. I just found this web site and registered, what a great opportunity to allow us to relive some of our memories. I was reading Angel’s and Raul’s correspondence and noticed that you had asked both of them about me. I would love to talk to you, please write back and lets try to talk on the phone. If you bring me up you will find some pictures I have posted, I will try to find more pictures to post. Hope to hear from you soon.

Message by Jose Fernandez Barbas | Sep 7th 2010

Armando, Are you planning on going to the 50th Reunion? I'm trying to get all of the St Vincent's kids together again.

Message by Angel Braulio Canete | Aug 27th 2010

Hi Armando. I was also with Raul Ruiz in the first group of Cuban kids that arrived at St Vincent's. Let's stay in touch.

Message by Angel Braulio Canete | Jun 6th 2009

Hey Armando; You are right! El Vaquero was Rosendo Pena he and Jose Verde use to hang out together. We called him El Vaquero because he always wore a cowboy hat. Verde, may he rest in peace, was nicknamed El Bombero, for reasons I won't describe here. Did you ever spent time in the Summer Home on River Road? It was a great place!

Message by Raul C Ruiz Cepero | May 30th 2009


Message by MERCY CAÑETE VELAR | May 29th 2009

Hello Armando I also spent a few years in Saginaw, from February 1962 to sometime in 1965. How long where you there? Do you remember Father Rginald or Sister Dorothy? I don't recall Miguel Pelayo.Where you part of the second or third group?

Message by Raul C Ruiz Cepero | May 28th 2009

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