Miami, FL, Oct. 9, 2019 – The Exile Experience at Miami Dade College (MDC) Special Collections, located inside the college’s Freedom Tower, will launch Exile Today, a program that reflects on the unique cultural impact of Miami’s exile community. Curated and moderated by prolific Cuban author, speaker and intellectual Carlos Alberto Montaner, Exile Today will kick off at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 31, with Miami, Becoming the Magic City, a discussion focused on the transformation of the city. Panelists will include one of Miami’s most respected and prolific architects, Raul L. Rodríguez, developer and CEO of The Related Group Jorge Perez and Miami Herald photojournalist Pedro Portal. The panel discussion will be held in Spanish.

Miami’s economic and cultural renaissance is often credited to the mass exodus of millions of Cuban exiles fleeing Fidel Castro’s communist regime. Arriving determined to make a home in their new city – and armed with extensive professional capabilities and an entrepreneurial spirit – Miami flourished with new businesses, cultural destinations and economic growth. Their immigration spawned the arrival of countless other cultures hailing predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I wanted to launch this conversation series around what is perhaps Miami’s most striking asset: its extraordinary architectural profile,” Montaner said. “I sought the opinion of three prolific experts who are constantly considering environmental concerns in their work. Their insights will address how a big city is developed sustainably and responsibly.”

Montaner will discuss some of the pivotal moments and developments that put Miami on the map. The conversation will contextualize the Freedom Tower’s critical role in Miami’s evolution into a global city.

“The MDC Freedom Tower is one of the most significant and beloved buildings in our city,” said Natalia Crujeiras, Executive Director of MDC’s Cultural Affairs department. “The MDC Special Collections honor the heritage, identity and legacy of the many communities that call South Florida home. With this new program, we aim not only to contextualize the Cuban exile and other diasporas’ experiences, but also celebrate their continuous contributions to Miami.”

Montaner will continue to curate additional renditions of Exile Today with subsequent programs to be announced in 2020.

Exile Today is a component of the Exile Experience at MDC Special Collections, a program presenting interdisciplinary lectures and displays that explore the diverse experiences of exiled communities. The Exile Experience considers forced displacements, diasporic movements, memory, and cultural identity to highlight the remarkable role the exile community continues to play in the development of Miami. A Journey to Freedom, a permanent exhibition of photographic images, illustrates the struggles endured by the Cuban exile population.

Panelist Bios

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a writer and journalist. He has published 30 books of essays and narratives, including Latin American and Western Culture, Freedom and Its Enemies. and Manual of the Perfect Latin American idiot, published together with Álvaro Vargas Llosa and Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza. His three latest novels are The Colonel’s Wife, Once Again Goodbye, and Time for Scoundrels. For many years, he has published a weekly syndicated column in various newspapers in Spain, Latin America and the U.S. He has made two weekly comments for radio from different countries and is an analyst for CNN Español. Montaner was the Vice President of Liberal International for twenty years and today supports the organization as a patron. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Madrid Tolerance Prize, a Doctor Honoris Causa of the Francisco Marroquín University, and the Juan de Mariana Prize, among others. His memoir, Without Going Any Further, will be published this year by Penguin-Random House. Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the 50 most influential writers of the Spanish language.

Raul L. Rodriguez, AIA, is the founding principal of Rodriguez and Quiroga Architects Chartered in Coral Gables, focused on architecture, urban design and interior design. Projects awarded over 36 years include the James L. King Federal Justice Building; Charles E. Bennett Federal Building; Frost Museum of Science; Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts; Performing Arts District Vision Plan; Miami Brickell Promenade; City of Homestead City Hall, Homestead Police Facility, MDC Homestead and Padrón Campuses, restoration of MDC’s Freedom Tower; renovation of Miami International Airport’s North, South and Central Terminals; interior design for offices for Del Monte Fresh Produce; Bacardi Limited; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Pacific National Bank; Amerant Bank and Seminole Tribe of Florida Headquarters. Rodriguez is currently chairman of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West. He has served as chairman of the Florida Building Commission, chairman of The Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places Trust, as a member of the City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board, as chairman of the Board of HistoryMiami, as founding chairman of the University of Miami School of Architecture Alumni Board and President of the Miami Chapter of The American Institute of Architects.

Jorge M. Perez, chairman and CEO of The Related Group, has led South Florida’s complex urban evolution for more than 40 years. His commitment to “building better cities”, and natural ability to identify emerging market trends, makes his one of the most trusted and influential names in real estate. Armed with an industry leading team, unmatched land holdings, innovative financing techniques and a pipeline of more than 100,000 units, Perez is set to answer the demands and desires of a new generation. He is also one of the country’s most prolific philanthropists and recently established two foundations dedicated to the advancement of an equitable, thriving South Florida – the Related Philanthropic Foundation and The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation. Perez continues to support long-term causes, most notably the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), National YoungArts Foundation, Big Brother Big Sisters of Miami, United Way of Miami-Dade, YMCA and many more. Mr. Pérez is also committed to The Giving Pledge, a campaign founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to which states he will donate 50 percent of his wealth to philanthropy. Perez has been honored with the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Hispanic Achievement & Business Entrepreneurship Award from Hispanic Magazine, The Developers and Builders Alliance’s Community Advancement Award and The Beacon Council’s 2015 Jay Malina Award. In 2005, TIME magazine named him one of the top 25 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. and he has appeared on the cover of FORBES twice.

Pedro Portal has documented South Florida, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Venezuela South and Central America on assignments as a staff photojournalist-videographer for the Miami Herald/ El Nuevo Herald since 1995. He has won several awards from the National Association Hispanic Publications and NAHJ. Portal was a U.S. host who traveled to Colombia as a part of the of the Digital Path to Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Latin America program in 2017.

WHAT:             Exile Today: Miami, Becoming the Magic City

WHEN:            Thursday, Oct. 31, 7 – 9 p.m.

WHERE:          MDC Special Collections

MDC Freedom Tower, First Floor

600 Biscayne Boulevard

Museum Hours: Wednesday 1 – 6 p.m., Thursday 1 – 8 p.m., Friday–Sunday 1– 6 p.m.

Museum admission: $12 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5 students (13–17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, MDC students, faculty, and staff, and children 12 and under.  Accessibility challenges: please call (305) 237-7710 for details.

For updates and a full schedule of events, please visit

Press Contacts: Nicole Martinez, Marketing and Membership Manager: 305-237-7719,; JWI PR—Jessica Wade Pfeffer: 305-804-8424,; or Juliana Gutierrez: 305-991-4259,