Edited by Jacqueline Bhabha, Jyothi Kanics and Daniel Senovilla Hernández
Chapter 3: Operation Pedro Pan: the 1960s transport of unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States
The Cuban revolution of 1959 set off an ambitious project that sought to create a socialist society and a “New Man.” Children were the keys to this ambitious social reengineering experiment. The rush to save children from this fueled an unprecedented exodus of unaccompanied minors to the United States through a program dubbed Operation Pedro Pan. Minors were provided visa waivers, mimeographed sheets with the letterhead of the Catholic Welfare Bureau signed by Father Bryan Walsh, a priest who was working with the US government. More than 14,000 Cuban minors arrived in the United States between 1960 and 1962. Once there, children claimed for their parents. However, on the heels of the October Missile Crisis both governments shut their doors. At the time more than 8,000 children had not been reunited with their parents. Not until 1965 were the doors opened again.
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