PERFORMING OPERATION PEDRO PAN
The following is a description of my current manuscript, Performing Operation Pedro Pan, an in-depth examination of performances associated with the U.S.-Cuban Operation Pedro Pan Exodus. Because my mother was one of the 14,000 unaccompanied children who migrated to the U.S. on those flights, this research is both a personal and professional exploration. It remains a lifelong project.
< My mother's 1961 passport photo featured in this advertisement for a public forum I curated for the NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs's 2008 Immigrant Heritage Week. The Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and other luminaries collaborated to make this event possible.
ABSTRACT of PERFORMING OPERATION PEDRO PAN
by KIMBERLY DEL BUSTO RAMÍREZ, PH.D.
From 1960 to 1962, more than 14,000 unaccompanied minors took flight from Cuba to the United States, establishing the largest recorded exodus in the Western Hemisphere. Now, more t han four decades later, Operation Pedro Pan persists through a revealing body of performance by and about a nation’s exiled children. This manuscript examines work created by artists about those flights, revealing performance as a primary, ongoing strategy taken on by these exiles in attempting to resolve the displaced child self.
The author, Kimberly del Busto Ramírez, is the daughter of a Pedro Pan exile. Ramírez's moth er, aunt, and uncle--Marta, María Cristina, and Fernando del Busto--were three of the 14,048 children of Operation Pedro Pan. Others include artists Ana Mendieta and María Brito, playwrights Eduardo Machado and Mario Ernesto Sánchez and musicians Willy Chirino and Lissette. Performing Operation Pedro Pan focuses on thes e artists and others, including Nilo Cruz and Melinda López, who write about the exodus as close relatives of its exiles.
The Pedro Pan exodus establishes a highly specified class of exile, dividing further the "1.5 generation" of Cuban-Americans defined by Rubén Rumbaut and Gustavo Pérez Firmat. Migrating alone, Pedro Pans express feeling their lives have been forever interrupted, with childhood essence lost. Performances reveal a struggle to recover not only Cuba, but also childhood, the parents from whom they were separated, and finally the agency of which they were deprived in formulating such a drastic departure. Plays often delineate fragmented, searching, disconnected characters and unresolved narratives. Settings refuse static locales, shifting between, or taking place in liminal or labyrinthine spaces defying any circumscribed locus—they are landless,desterrado, like their wandering inhabitants. Pedro Pans often produce autobiographical characters who, "unfinished," attempt to recover lost spaces and time from a vanished adolescence. The sculptors, playwrights, and performers investigated in this book compose a Cuba that can be neither lost nor recovered for Pedro Pans, but remains an impenetrable illusion, like the restless, liminal condition of lifelong exile.
Contact the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2007 I curated THE LOST APPLE PLAYS: Performances from the U.S.-Cuban Operation Pedro Pan Exodus at the Martin E. Segal Theatre, featured in the New York City Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs annual Immigrant Heritage Celebration.
Pictured (Left to Right): NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Guillermo Linares, Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist Nilo Cruz, actor Frank Robles, performance artist Carmelita Tropicana (Alina Troyano), playwright Melinda Lopez, actress/writer Carmen Peláez, actor Felipe Gorostiza, actress Glenda Pezuela, actor Gilberto Arribas, actor Jason Ramirez. Front: myself (left) and actress Miriam Cruz (right).