MIAMI – 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 and family 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 we were too young to understand why we were being sent away.”
With the support of Operation Pedro Pan Group, Inc., the organization that connects the children of the Pedro Pan exodus and preserves its artifacts and memories, HistoryMiami museum will open its doors to the exhibition documenting the emotional journey these children – and their families – underwent to escape indoctrination.
The exhibition will not only display the artifacts but also tell 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 will take 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 through recreated environments.
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.
Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students with ID, $6 for children 6-12, and free for members and children under 6. Museum hours are: Monday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm; Sunday, 12 pm-5 pm. For more information, call 305-375-1492 or visit historymiami.org.
Operation Pedro Pan Group, Inc. (OPPG) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1991 by the former children of Pedro Pan. The organization has played an integral role in documenting and educating the public on this important chapter of the history of Cuba and the United States. Learn more about OPPG at www.pedropan.org or facebook.com/OPPGI
HistoryMiami, a Smithsonian affiliate, is the premier cultural institution committed to gathering, organizing, preserving and celebrating Miami’s history as the unique crossroads of the Americas. We accomplish this through education, collections, research, exhibitions, publications and city tours.