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Frank Perez Avenue: Commissioner Joe Carollo pays tribute to Bay of Pigs Veteran Frank Perez Avenue

Commissioner Joe Carollo renames a street in Little Havana after Frank Perez, a Bay of Pigs veteran and political prisoner

Little Havana, the vibrant heart of Miami's Cuban exile community, received a new landmark. In a powerful testament to our community's spirit, City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo recently invited residents to a ceremony commemorating the designation of a street as "Frank Perez Avenue." This tribute, a product of our collective pride, honors the life and legacy of Frank Perez, a local businessman, former political prisoner, and Bay of Pigs Invasion veteran, a man who truly belongs to our community.

The ceremony, a momentous occasion held on Thursday, May 30th, 2024, was a celebration of the remarkable journey of Frank Perez, who exemplified "courage, dignity, and patriotism" throughout his life.

A life shaped by adversity and resilience

Frank Perez's story is one of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. After the rise of communism in Cuba, he was forced to flee his homeland. Finding refuge in Chicago, USA, his life took an unexpected turn when he learned of Brigade 2506, a CIA-backed paramilitary group formed by Cuban exiles to liberate Cuba.

Driven by a deep desire to see his homeland free, Perez traveled from Chicago to Miami to join the Brigade. This decision placed him at the center of a pivotal moment in Cuban history, the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The 1961 invasion attempt proved unsuccessful, but Perez's courage and commitment to his cause left a lasting mark.

Frank Perez - Building a life in Miami

After being forced to flee Cuba, he started a new in Miami. Martica Perez, his wife, shared that he dreamt of Cuba being free from its constraints. This longing for a liberated homeland is further emphasized by the fact that Frank never truly considered Miami a permanent replacement, desiring to return someday.

Despite the bittersweet nature of leaving his homeland, Frank Perez embraced the opportunity Miami offered. He began selling jewelry out of a suitcase at the Miami International Airport, a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and later opened his store. The success of Frank Joyería, a store known for its "unique flair for quality and Cuban flavor," suggests a desire to keep his heritage alive in exile.

The store quickly became a success, not just for its beautiful jewelry but also because it served as a "gathering place for fellow exiles."  Frank Perez met his wife, Martica, at the airport, and together, they built a thriving business that has become a Miami institution. Their sons, Phillip and Frank Jr., continue the family tradition, ensuring that Frank's legacy of excellence lives on after he died in 2003.

The loss of her husband in 2003 was a personal tragedy, yet it instilled in her a deeper strength and gratitude. The Perez family persevered through these challenges, demonstrating the same resilience that characterized Frank's journey.

A group of people smiling and posing for a photo in front of a street sign.

A legacy remembered

The dedication of Frank Perez Avenue is more than just a street name change. It serves as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made by Cuban exiles in their fight for freedom.

Adding Frank Perez Avenue strengthens the neighborhood's identity and provides a tangible link to its past. This dedication holds particular significance for younger generations who may not have a personal connection to the events that shaped the community.

The ceremony hosted by City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo brought together members of the community, veterans of Brigade 2506, and Frank Perez's family. Kind words were spoken by Commissioner Joe Carollo, Frank Perez’s wife, Martica, a pillar of strength who stood by his side through his triumphs and challenges, as well as her son Phillip.

Their sons, Phillip and Frank Perez Jr., proudly carry on their father's legacy and oversee the day-to-day operations at the original "Frank Joyería" location on Calle Ocho, the heart of Little Havana and another location near Coral Gables on Bird Road catering to a broader clientele. Both locations continue the tradition of exceptional service and high-quality jewelry that Frank Perez established.

A symbol of perseverance and community

The story of Frank Perez is a testament to the enduring spirit of the Cuban exile community. It exemplifies the power of perseverance in the face of hardship and the importance of building a new life while staying connected to one's roots. The dedication of Frank Perez Avenue serves as a lasting tribute to a local hero and a reminder of the unwavering pursuit of freedom that continues to shape the character of Little Havana.

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