The Mirabal Sisters
Patricia, Marie and Minerva Mirabal
Original Images Owned by the Mirabal Family
To see more pictures go to El Bohio
“What matters is the quality of a person. What someone is inside themselves ” — Maria Teresa (Maté) Mirabal
Four Dominican women from Salcedo, Dominican Republic. These women followed their convictions with bravery and selflessness to fight for what they believed. To fight against a dictator’s rule they felt was wrong. Three of them – Patricia, Minerva, and Maria Teresa – gave their lives for their cause. They were killed savagely by some henchmen following the Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo orders. They were a threat to this commanding man because they were involved with trying to overthrow his cruel, ruthless and fascist government.
The families first real run in with Trujillo was at a party to which they were invited. The family left early. Trujillo was angry about this so he had the father, Don Enrique arrested (no one was permitted to leave a party before Trujillo). Minerva and Doña Chea were also arrested the following day. Every day Minerva was taken to the Fortaleza Ozama and interrogated by two of Trujillo’s men. She refused to write a letter of apology to Trujillo. Since the family was well connected, they knew the right people. They got Trujillos brother, with whom they had acquaintance, to intercede for them and have the family members that were imprisoned released.
They were again arrested a few years later and were always in fear of Trujillos men. This constant fear and stress led to Don Enrique, the girls’ father’s death on December 14, 1953.
The group the Mirabal sisters helped form that fought against the Trujillo regime was known as the Movement of the Fourteenth of June. The sisters were known as Las Mariposas/ The Butterflies
On November 25, 1960 Trujillo decided he had enough of the sisters’ trouble making and decided it was time to get rid of them. He sent his men to intercept the three women on their return home from visiting their husbands who were incarcerated. Trujillo had these men imprisoned in hopes that it would make the ladies shut up and stop their activities, which it did not. The sisters’ car was stopped. They were led into a sugarcane field. Here they were mercilessly beaten and strangled to death. Then their car was taken to a mountain known as La Cumbre, between Santiago and Puerto Plata, and thrown off.
Trujillo thought he was finally free of “the problem”. But what happened was just the opposite of what he had hoped. The plan failed. The people of Dominican Republic, along with the Catholic church, were outraged. These ladies’ lives were cut short because of their convictions. Trujillo, with this action brought more attention to the rebellion. Instead of eliminating the overthrow of his dictatorship he brought its downfall. This contributed to his assassination in 1961, only six months later.
The story about the The Mirabal sisters, In the Time of the Butterflies, was made into a movie in 2001.
Minerva Argentina (the second sister, was born on March 12, 1926) is the one that initially got involved with the underground movement to overthrow the government. While she was away at school she had friends whose families had been tortured by Trujillo’s men. With this her eyes were opened. She always a bit of a rebel and hated when someone or something was wronged. With her interest in politics (Minerva went to University in Santo Domingo which then was called Ciudad Trujillo) and her desire to study to become a lawyer, this was the perfect cause for her. She met the leader of the Popular Socialist Party and started her fight for freedom of the country. She married Manolo (Manuel Tavarez and had 2 children), who was also anti-Trujillo.
Maria Teresa (the youngest sister, was born on October 15, 1936) was seeing Leandro Guzmán (they had 1 child) who was also involved in the anti-Trujillo movement. So they worked together for the over throw of Trujillo’s government.
Patricia Mercedes (the eldest sister, was born on February 27, 1924). She was leaning towards being a nun when she met and married Pedro Gonzalez (they had 4 children).
Dedé, her given name is Bélgica, was born February 29, 1925 (her birth was filed on March 1st so this is her legal birthday). She is the sister that was not with the rest of the sisters on that tragic day. She has since dedicated her life to preserving her sisters memory. She has 9 children, one of which is Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal. He served as the vice-president during Leonel Fernández’s first term as president between the years of 1996 and 2000.
On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 (the anniversary of the day of the murder of the Mirabal sisters) as the annual date for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in commemoration of the sisters. This day also marks the beginning of the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence. The end of the 16 Days is December 10, International Human Rights Day.
Cross-posted at Hillary’s Village.
N.B. This entry has been edited here for clarity. I have not edited the wikipedia page, however.