Donor Stories: Rotary Club Miami-Granada

The Rotary Club Miami-Granada recently donated a series of documents dating to 1916, when the historic Havana Chapter of Rotary International (RI), from which the club originates, was established. The Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) recognized the Miami-Granada club’s donation at a June 30 event at the CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion.

The Havana Rotary Club was the “first RI chapter established outside of the United States in a Spanish-speaking country,” explained the chapter’s president, Dr. Réne López-Guerrero.


Ellen Blasi, a former District Governor of Rotary International, introduces Dr. Réne López-Guerrero, president of the Rotary Club Miami-Granada at the club’s centennial anniversary event on June 30 at the CHC.

From its inception, the club’s list of achievements grew exponentially, providing RI with four directors and sponsoring the foundation of 43 other Cuban clubs. After a 25-year hiatus precipitated by the 1959 Cuban revolution, the Havana Rotary Club was reborn in 1985 in Miami, Florida, as the Rotary Club Miami-Granada to continue its legacy of “Rotary Serving Humanity.”

In a letter read during the event, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio recognized the important collaboration of the CHC and Rotary Club Miami-Granada. “I am humbled to learn of the many accomplishments the Rotary Club Miami-Granada has made of service to others in their communities,” Sen. Rubio writes. “As the son of Cuban parents I share with you a sense of pride and joy during this meaningful event as you share with others a rich and plentiful history.”

The documents are now available in the Rotary Club of Miami-Granada Collection, 1916-1985, for the permanent use of scholars and researchers.  Material will be added to the collection on an on-going basis.

Cuban Sculptor Roberto Estopiñán (1921-2015) Honored at CHC

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Click the image above to watch a video of the discussion on May 13. More photos from the event can be viewed on Facebook.

Click the image above to watch a video of the discussion on May 13. More photos from the event can be viewed on Facebook.

Friends, family, and longtime admirers of Cuban sculptor Roberto Estopiñán shed light on the late artist’s vision and the compassion behind his celebrated work during an event held in his memory at the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) and co-presented with the Cuban Museum on May 28. Estopiñán, who died in Miami in January 2015 at age 93, is widely known for his work in sculpture describing the complexities of the human condition, often through interpretations of the female form.

The program included a recognition of Estopiñán’s widow, Carmina Benguría, followed by remarks by nephew George Roberto Pace and art historian Alejandro Anreus on Estopiñán’s work and social activism—often interrelated—prior to his exile in 1961 and throughout his life. “At the heart of his work was always the human figure for he believed in the integral and spiritual value of the human person,” Anreus said. The program also included readings by the poets Alina Galliano and Gastón Álvaro, and a screening of the 1994 documentary Artists in Exile: Roberto Estopiñán by the late Cuban-American television writer and producer Ray Blanco.

Forty-six of Estopiñán’s sketchbooks, a few which were on display during the event, were donated to CHC where they will now be preserved and made available to the public.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.


Carmina Benguría, widow of Roberto Estopiñán, is honored by CHC Chair Maria Estorino Dooling (left), Ileana Fuentes of the Cuban Museum, and Benguría’s great-nephew Griffin Pace, during the May 28 celebration of Estopiñán’s life and work.

UM’s Cuban Heritage Collection Celebrates the Legacy of Maestro Manuel Ochoa

by Rosa Monzon, Cuban Heritage Collection

The exhibit includes a digital component through which viewers can watch videos of performances conducted by Maestro Ochoa.

The exhibition includes a digital component through which viewers can watch videos of Ochoa’s performances.

Maestro Manuel Ochoa, a Cuban exile musician, choral and orchestra conductor, and founder of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, was the focus of a reception at the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), at the University of Miami’s Otto G. Richter Library. The event served as the official launch of an exhibition that includes Ochoa’s greatest works and documented memories, which are preserved and available for research at the CHC in the Manuel Ochoa Papers.

Ochoa is recognized internationally not only for his numerous contributions to classical Cuban music in the island but also his work in Spain, Austria, and the United States.

Curated by Meiyolet Mendez, librarian at the CHC, the exhibition displays photographs, letters, publications, music scores, and concert programs of Ochoa’s personal life and career. Included is a photograph from the beginning of Ochoa’s career, at the age of 17, conducting members of the Holguin Choral Society, which he created in 1942, even before he had any formal training. Another photograph shows Ochoa leading the Belen Jesuit Choir in Havana years later. Ochoa’s lesson plans and notes on working with child choir singers also are on display.

“One of the most exciting parts of working on this exhibit was the opportunity to bring to life Maestro Ochoa’s entire career,” said Mendez. “I discovered a person who was passionate about music and music education, and who loved sharing that passion with others.”

Also on display is a paper program of the Concierto Sacro, sponsored by the Cuban Catholic Artists Guild, featuring Ochoa’s Coro de Madrigalistas (Madrigal Choir), popularly noted as the best choir in Cuba, in 1956, Havana.

A driving force and inspiration in Ochoa’s life was always his family. One of the highlights of the exhibition is a photograph of his mother, Caridad Ochoa, who was a trained opera singer, plus a tear sheet from The Miami Herald with an article by David Lawrence Jr. celebrating Ochoa as well as his wife and biggest supporter, Sofia Ochoa.

“She was at his side every step of the way,” said their son, Manuel Ochoa Jr. “My father always said she made it easy for him to just stand at a podium and conduct.”

CHC recognized Sofia Ochoa (right) during the event.

Esperanza Bravo de Varona (left), former chair of the CHC, and current chair Maria Estorino recognized Sofia Ochoa (right) during the event.

Sofia’s unwavering support for her husband continued after his death, in 2006. She not only donated his collection but also contributed countless hours as a volunteer in the processing of these records.

“When my mother and I thought about how we would remember and commemorate my father, we wanted a living memorial,” said Ochoa Jr. “We wanted to share his life story so that others, especially young Cubans and Cuban-Americans would be inspired to continue his musical legacy.”

After studying and working in Cuba, Vienna, Spain, and Rome, Ochoa settled in Miami following the Cuban Revolution. On display are photographs of Ochoa’s performances in Miami, such as the first Festiva Symphony Concert at the Colonel Hotel in 1989. There is also a photograph of acclaimed Cuban pianist Zenaida Manfugás, from the same concert.

In Miami Ochoa also created the Society of Arts and Culture of Americas, but his greatest contribution to the city’s cultural development was the creation and leadership of the Miami Symphony Orchestra for more than 25 years. Multiple playbills from its concerts are displayed in the CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, as well as audio and videos of performances.

Guests at the reption.

The celebration of Ochoa’s life and legacy took place at CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, where the Manuel Ochoa Papers are now permanently housed and available for research.

Considered “the highlight of his tenure with the orchestra,” said Ochoa Jr., was a concert in Carnegie Hall in June of 2000, also represented in the exhibition.

“Maestro Ochoa’s legacy lives on in the Miami Symphony Orchestra he founded and in the lives that he touched through his various cultural activities,” said Maria Estorino, chair of the CHC. “But it also lives on here, in the library, where through his own papers, his life, his work, and his passion can be discovered.”

The CHC is home to thousands of books, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials that document the rich history and culture of Cuba and its diaspora. The legacy of Maestro Manuel Ochoa, as well as countless other Cubans and Cuban-Americans, “will not only be preserved here, but it will be shared with our students and with the community,” said Estorino.

“I hope the Maestro Manuel Ochoa Collection continues to inspire and educate future generations to become musicians and conductors, and keep alive the rich tradition of classical music,” Ochoa Jr. said.

The exhibition is available for viewing through the end of summer. For more information about the Cuban Heritage Collection and its events, please visit

View more photos from the event here.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.

The exhibit will be available at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion through summer 2015.

The exhibition is on view at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion through the end of the summer.

Brothers to the Rescue Archive Reveals Stories of Lives Saved, Lost in Cuban Rescue Operations

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

José Basulto, Brothers to the Rescue founder

The University of Miami Libraries Cuban Heritage Collection recently acquired an archive documenting the activity of Brothers to the Rescue, an organization that carried out over 1,800 search-and-rescue missions between Cuba and the United States during the 1990s. Photographs, video recordings, reports, and other materials comprise the archive and together tell the story of the organization, which saved over 4,200 rafters in the Straits of Florida. The gift is part of Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.

“The story of the Brothers will forever be part of the larger history that we all share,” said Maria Estorino, chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection, speaking from a podium at The Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion during a reception held January 9 to honor former members of the organization. Several volunteer pilots from Brothers to the Rescue, and some of their key supporters, attended the reception, which was sponsored by TD Bank, Bacardi USA, and the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection.

The Brothers founder, José Basulto, spoke at the event, explaining how Brothers to the Rescue operated on behalf of Cuban refugees as well as those who hadn’t left the island. “Much of our role was sending messages of solidarity and love to the Cuban people,” Basulto said.

The organization was founded in 1991 when the news broke of fifteen-year-old Cuban exile Gregorio Perez Ricardo, who died of dehydration mid-journey to the United States. The Brothers, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, performed search-and-rescue operations throughout the 1990s. They entered a period of decline after February 24, 1996, when Cuban Air Force MiGs shot down two of the organization’s planes and killed four volunteers.

During his speech, Basulto recounted that one aspect of the Brothers’ mission involved the dissemination of media to Cuban citizens promoting nonviolent civil disobedience. “Change must come from within,” Basulto said, describing one instance in which the organization dropped 500,000 leaflets onto the island containing the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights.

CHC Chair María Estorino speaks during the event.

Basulto said the organization’s missions were carried out through thousands of small donations, which added up to millions of dollars. “God was on our side,” he said, as he picked out many supporters from the audience and thanked them for their actions that pushed forth the organization’s efforts throughout the 1990s.

Basulto first contacted Estorino at the Cuban Heritage Collection in 2008 regarding the many boxes and file cabinets he had in storage that—through flight logs, photographs, news clippings, legal records, and audiovisual recordings—documented the work of Brothers to the Rescue. “We were ready to accept the materials then and there, but Basulto was not ready to part with them just yet,” Estorino said.

Five years later, she received another call from Basulto saying he was ready to make the archive accessible to the public. The sixty boxes that make up the archive of the Brothers to the Rescue will soon be made available for research. The next step, Estorino said, is to establish resources for processing the archive—funding for student interns to organize, preserve, and catalog its materials—a cause for which the Libraries is calling for support from the public.

Dean of Libraries Charles Eckman, who also spoke at the event, assured guests that the records are in good hands. “Generations of future historians will benefit from the care and attention that the staff of the University of Miami Libraries and the Cuban Heritage Collection will bring to these important records,” he said.

Basulto says the stories will serve to shed light on the many people involved and their unique place in the organization’s history, as well as the series of events that led to its tragic conclusion. At the end of his speech, Basulto commemorated the services of Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, and Mario de la Peña, of the Brothers who lost their lives that day.

José Basulto, center, is surrounded (from left) by his son Felipe Basulto; Dean of Libraries Charles Eckman; CHC Chair María Estorino; UM Trustee and Amigos Board Member José Bared.

Mad Men of Cuba: Honoring Ricardo Arregui

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Ricardo Arregui, center, is surrounded (from left) by his daughter Victoria López Castro; CHC Chair Maria Estorino; his son, Richard; and wife, Olga.

Over 100 community members, including distinguished local artists and advertising professionals, joined family and friends of Ricardo Arregui at a reception on Thursday, September 26 to honor one of Cuba’s original Mad Men, and celebrate the donation of his archive to the University of Miami Libraries’ Cuban Heritage Collection.

The archive chronicles Arregui’s prolific career dating back to the 1950s and contains historic photographs, iconic magazine print ad clippings, LP jingle recordings, and signature market research publications, to ultimately comprise the Ricardo Arregui Papers.

“The work we do is possible because of people like Ricardo Arregui, who shared his personal history with us by participating in our Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project in 2012, and who has now entrusted us to care for his personal archive, the evidence of his long and storied career,” said Maria Estorino, the Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection.

The reception, themed as Mad Men of Cuba, was held at The Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, where poster-sized reproductions of original ads from memorable campaigns for products such as Diana foods, Polar beer, and Perfumeria Gal decorated the walls. It was sponsored by the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection, Grand Havana Rum, Versailles Restaurant, and Café Pilon.

Arregui’s son, Richard Arregui, spoke at the event, providing a narrative of his father’s journey that began in Havana, Cuba, where with his brother Tirso Arregui and friend Tony Fergo, he opened Fergo-Arregui Advertising, known for its extensive research and marketing departments. “Before Google, Fergo-Arregui knew street by street how many dry cleaners, meat markets, and apartments there were across the city,” Arregui said. Arregui’s vision for understanding the consumer supported the team in rising to among the top five agencies in Cuba within ten years. “My father has always said you have to listen to what they are saying out in the streets.”

Ricardo A. Arregui

When the brothers left Cuba in the early 1960s, they founded Arregui International Advertising, the first Hispanic advertising agency in South Florida, where some of their earliest clients were Café Bustelo, Kirby Foods, Diana Foods, and Balado Tires. Their clientele grew with the Hispanic community, and went on to encompass El Dorado Furniture, Sedano’s Market and Pharmacy, Badia Spices, Café Pilon, Samuel Adams, and Sam’s Club.

“We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Arregui during the past year, and while most of you know him, too, I bet there’s a lot that you don’t know about his entrepreneurial spirit, his creativity, and his hard work,” Estorino told reception attendees. She believes many aspects of Arregui’s story are universal, and hopes the donation of his archive inspires others to ask how their own stories will be remembered. “We are here to help you answer that question, just as we answered it for Ricardo Arregui,” Estorino says.

The Ricardo Arregui Papers will be accessible for researchers in the coming months at the Cuban Heritage Collection. Arregui’s oral history can be accessed through the Collection’s Oral History Project, archived online in the Libraries Digital Collections at

Donor Stories: Ruston Academy alumni reunite at CHC, browse collection

Milk graphic.

Board members of the Ruston-Baker Educational Institution during their visit to CHC.

Last month, a group of alumni from Ruston Academy reunited at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion. While here, the group took a quick tour of our holdings after having the opportunity to browse through a selection of materials from the Ruston Academy Records, 1928-2012. This collection, which we began acquiring in 2009 from Chris Baker, President of the Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, Inc., contains materials related to Ruston Academy, a bilingual American school founded in Havana, Cuba, in 1920.

This spring, Chris and Dennis Baker spent some time with our staff identifying and organizing five boxes of materials, which contain the administrative files of the Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, Inc., a group of alumni and friends organized to plan for a possible re-opening of the school in a post-Revolutionary Cuba. The Baker brothers both attended the Academy where their parents, James and Sibyl Baker, were teachers and later became founding members of the Educational Institution. Chris Baker along with a few other Board members of the Educational Institution were involved in the original donation of several Ruston Academy yearbooks in 2009. Today, this collection includes photographs, programs, directories and correspondence documenting the history of Ruston Academy alumni reunions held in the United States from 1975 to 2012, in addition to photographs, ephemera, and other materials documenting The Ruston Academy’s operations and history.

With the support of alumnus Arturo Gutiérrez and his family, the Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, Inc. recently made a donation of $10,000 to support CHC educational programs at CHC like the CHC Graduate Fellowships. During their visit, the alumni celebrated the donation with the unveiling of their tile on our donor wall.


About The Ruston Academy

Opened in September 1920 in Havana by educator Hiram Ruston, Ruston Academy was considered the premiere American school in Latin America. Originally focused on providing an English college-preparatory education for the children of American expatriates in Cuba, it quickly grew into a bilingual academy with a multinational student body. In the 1940s, Ruston expanded to include an elementary school, business preparatory program, basic English classes for Cuban students, and a boarding school, with enrollment totaling around 750 students. In 1955 Ruston moved to a new, larger campus in Havana. Ruston Academy was closed down by the Castro government in 1961 when the regime seized its land and property holdings. Its former location was used as a public school, storage facility, homeless shelter, and military intelligence facility by the Cuban government.


Donor Stories: Ramiro A. Fernández

Click the image to watch the video.

Have you ever wondered how we come to acquire the historical materials in our Collection? So many of the resources we hold have been generously donated by individuals and families who value the history and culture of Cuba. Watch this video to hear from one of our donors, Ramiro A. Fernández, about his experiences collecting Cuban photographs and why he has donated some of them to the Cuban Heritage Collection.

Ramiro A. Fernández
Photo by Rankin

Ramiro A. Fernández is a well-known collector of Cuban photographs and images. Born in Havana and a graduate of Florida State University, Mr. Fernández worked as a photography editor for Time, Inc. for 25 years, including work with magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, People and People En Español, and Sports Illustrated. He is a Contributing Photo Editor for Americas Quarterly. In 2007, he published images from his collection in I Was Cuba (Chronicle Books). Since 2003, he has generously donated several hundred photographs to us, most of which we have digitized and made available online. These images document life in Cuba from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Thanks to donors like Mr. Fernández, we continue to build the most comprehensive research collection outside the island on Cuba and its diaspora and to enhance research, teaching, and learning opportunities for our students and faculty, our community, and the broader scholarly network.