Operation Pedro Pan

The Untold Exodus of 14,048 Cuban Children

Routledge 1999
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Between 1960 and 1962, over 14,000 children were sent out of Cuba alone by desperate parents who feared for their children’s future under Castro. In Operation Pedro Pan-The Untold Exodus of 14,048 Cuban Children, Conde— herself one of these young exiles—has not only recorded hundreds of their diverse stories and experiences from American foster homes and orphanages, but also illuminated an unknown period of the Cold War. The book investigates the events and key figures surrounding the exodus, including the roles of the Catholic Church and the State Department.


“Conde was 10 when her parents put her on a flight to the U.S. alone. She was one of 14,048 children to make the trip via Operation Pedro Pan, a clandestine organization that smuggled visas into and children out of Cuba. This book is not a memoir, but a well-researched history of Operation Pedro Pan, a portrait of early revolutionary Cuba and a compendium of testimony from the now-grown children.”
Publishers Weekly

“It’s a remarkable episode in cold war history: 14,000 Cuban children sent from the island by their parents in the years after Castro’s revolution. Conde was a participant but didn’t realize she was one of thousands until she read Joan Didion’s Miami, which stimulated her curiosity and, ultimately, this book. Conde sent out some 800 questionnaires and received 442 written responses; she interviewed 173 people, including Pedro Pan children, parents, foster parents, journalists, teachers, psychologists, and opponents of Castro in Cuba. The book’s primary value lies in the individual stories, from tearful departure and arrival in Miami to temporary shelters and placement in homes or, in some cases, in orphanages; to learning a new language and adjusting and, in many cases, assimilating; to reunions with parents, adolescence in the ’60s and ’70s, and adulthood.”

“Fascinating is the least one can say about this book. It is the story of thousands on Cuban children who wouldn’t grow up under communism and were sent by their parents to Never-Never Land of America, and some of them lived happily ever after in this version of Peter Pan. Fidel Castro, by the way, plays a very credible Captain hook.”
—Guillermo Cabrera infant, author of Three Trapped Tigers

“Operation Pedro Pan is an exceptional document of our time. A courageous, authoritative, and engaging accounting of one of the darkest chapters in Cuban history and one of the saddest, this book is a vital contribution, and an independent source, for the study of Cuban history of the last 40 years. Her achievement stands splendidly alone in the genre.”
—Heberto Padilla, author of Fuera del Juego

“Totally engrossing, often quite moving, and times even deeply disturbing, operation Pedro Pan is a thought provoking book about the difficult decisions parents must make on behalf of their children: decisions that will alter forever not only their children’s lives but the parent’s lives as well. Absorbing from cover to cover.”
—José Raul Bernardo, author of The Secret of the Bulls

“A collection of tearful testimonies woven with a tale of the events that unfolded in Cuba and led desperate parents to make the heart-wrenching decision to send their children alone to a foreign country.”
—Fabiola Santiago, The Miami Herald

“Her book is an impressive job of reporting dozens of personal stories and fascinating vignettes.”
—Alfredo Lanier, Chicago Tribune

“Yvonne M. Conde has become the chronicler of her generation.”
The San Juan Star



La Sabiduria de los Nuestros


Random House Español 2006
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A Spanish-language book of over a 1,000 legendary quotations by the most brilliant minds and well- known celebrities in the world—past and present.

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