Operation Pedro Pan The Cuban Children’s Exodus

The Diocese of St. Augustine will host a screening of the highly acclaimed documentary, Operation Pedro Pan: The Cuban Children’s Exodus( OPPG). The screening is March 24, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., at the Cathedral Basilica’s Bishop Baker Center, 267 St. George Street in St. Augustine.

In 1962, after being reunited with their sons, parents of the 23 unaccompanied teens who were sent to a Catholic orphanage in Indiana had a picnic in honor of Msgr. J. William Lester (center, holding the Cuban flag). Felipe Estévez, 16, is the third boy to the left of Msgr. Lester barely visible next to his brother Carlos. (Photo: Alicia Romillo Robles)

Bishop Felipe Estévez of St. Augustine was one of more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children who left his homeland to escape the repressive communist government. Producers of the documentary called it the “largest recorded child refugee exodus in the Western Hemisphere.”

The “Pedro Pan” children were greeted by members of the Archdiocese of Miami, who found homes for them until they could be reunited with their parents in the United States.

Produced by Carmen Valdivia and directed by Carlos Gutierrez, the documentary is a production of the OPPG Historic Committee in collaboration with the HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate. The 90-minute program is based on research conducted by the OPPG Historic Committee and includes more than 22 interviews with former Pedro Pan children, mothers, caretakers, and historians.

Miami Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Agustin Roman (left) and Auxiliary Bishop Estévez in 2010. A mentor for more than 40 years, Bishop Estévez said he remembers Bishop Roman saying to him as a teenager, “These hands could consecrate the Body of Christ.”

The interviews cover life in Cuba before 1959; the drastic changes brought about by the Revolution, their unaccompanied exodus from Cuba, and their arrival and adaptation to life in the U.S.

There is no charge to see the documentary, but you should pre-order your tickets at https://tinyurl.com/y7mo6ca6.