Local museum commemorates 60th anniversary of Operation Pedro Pan with special exhibit

Local museum commemorates 60th anniversary of Operation Pedro Pan

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Carmen Valdivia is not just the executive director of the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora.

She curated the exhibit, “Operation Pedro Pan: The Cuban Children’s Exodus 60 Anniversary,” in partnership with the Operation Pedro Pan Group, Inc., that will be open to the public Wednesday.

Valdivia was one of the more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children to come to the U.S. between 1960 and 1962.

“It is close to my heart because it is our story and it’s a story that Cuba tries to change,” explained Valdivia.

It is a story of sacrifice. The operation was a unique effort for Cuban children to escape the totalitarian forced reeducation and find care within Catholic institutions and relatives. With the hope of being reunited with their parents in the future.

The exhibit paints a picture of what life was like for a child in Cuba, where the world revolved around family, school and religion. One of which is a prominently displayed first communion dress within the collection of belongings of the children, some now prominent members of the South Florida community.

First Communion dress, "Operation Pedro Pan: The Cuban Children's Exodus 60 Anniversary" (Copyright 2021 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

“These are all artifacts that were brought from Cuba,” said Valdivia.

The exhibition will take visitors through the timelines and will include school yearbooks, family photos and videos of the time when Castro’s regime accelerated the participation of Cuban families in the operation. The Bay of Pigs invasion, organizers say, played a big part.

“It is important because if you don’t learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it,” Valdivia said.

The American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora is located at 1200 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145. Operational hours are Wednesday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For more information on ticket pricing and reservations, click on thecuban.org.

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Veronica Crespo writes for Local10.com and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.