Imagine leaving your homeland as a child, without your parents, to live in a foreign country. Will you ever return home? Will you ever see your parents again? What does your future hold?
That was the reality for the more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban boys and girls who left their homeland to come to the United States in what became the largest recorded child refugee exodus in the Western Hemisphere, which lasted from 1960-1962.
“I think it’s impossible for most people to understand how utterly frightening this was,” recalled Tony Argiz, one of the many children sent away from his parents in pursuit of freedom at age 9. “Remember, most of us had no idea if we were ever going to see our families again. And some of us were too young to understand why we were being sent away.”
In partnership with Operation Pedro Pan Group, Inc., the organization that connects the children of the Pedro Pan exodus and preserves its artifacts and memories, HistoryMiami museum opens its doors to the exhibition documenting the emotional journey these children – and their families – underwent to escape indoctrination.
The exhibition not only displays the artifacts but also tells the story of how these families came to make this life-changing decision and what became of the children. Using video testimonials, private letters, journals and photographs, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey from Cuba to Miami and beyond; giving visitors a glimpse of the children’s past and the camps they lived in once they reached the United States.
With the support of a $300,000 grant from the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the 5,000 sq. ft. exhibition Operation Pedro Pan: The Cuban Children’s Exodus will be on view from June 26, 2015 – January 17, 2016.