The Mirabal Butterflies: 5 Facts About The Sisters Who Toppled A Dominican Dictatorship


Patria Mirabal, Minerva Mirabal and María Teresa Mirabal were truly feminist before their time. Living through the ruling of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in the 1950s, Las Mariposas fought tirelessly to put an end to his hateful, racist political ways. Knowing the possible outcome of their disloyalty, The Butterflies fearlessly led a movement that called for the liberation of their home country and its women, until their last breath. Today they are recognized in textbooks, and are looked to by women and men as a global symbols of feminist resistance. Here are five facts about the astonishing Butterflies…

The Mirabal Family’s Origin
Raised in Salcedo, a town based in the northern region of the island known as the “Cibao” in the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters come from a large family of middle class farmers. As bright, young women they made it a point to keep education above all in a time where education wasn’t common for women. Three of the four sisters earned college degrees. Dedé Mirabal stayed home to take care of the household. All four were well-read outside of academia. Today, their Salcedo home continues to stand tall and mighty as a museum, and has easily become the pride of their hometown.

Anti-Rafael Trujillo Movement
While all four spunky sisters were against dictator Rafael Trujillo, their anti-Trujillo movement began with Minerva Argentina. Minerva is known for historically rejecting Trujillo’s sexist advances, something most women—if not all—were too scared to do at the time. In Miguel A. García’s Tres Heroínas y un Tirano, it tells of when president Trujillo asked the sister, “What if I send my subjects to conquer you?” to which she responded, “And what if I conquer your subjects?”

READ: “100 Years Of Beauty” In The Dominican Republic Is More Than Skin Deep

After witnessing a number of tragic deaths at the hands of their president, it didn’t take long for the sisters to join Minerva’s ideology. Together they led the Movement of the Fourteenth of June, a movement that ended up uniting the middle class against Trujillo’s dictatorship. During this movement the sisters were labeled with an underground name, Las Mariposas (“The Butterflies”), a fitting name that really stuck. Upon realizing a quiet revolution was happening behind his back, Trujillo had The Butterflies and their supportive husbands incarcerated. However, not even prison could hold back this trio of feminists. The Mirabal sisters luckily weren’t tortured as most who went against Trujillo’s ruling were, and continued their revolution behind bars. In 1960, the sisters were released.

DRs women #cheguevaras. #wcw #mirabalsisters #internationaldayfortheeliminationofviolenceagainstwomen #heroines

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Devastating Death
Although the revolution had been in many ways successful, it unfortunately came with a high cost. On November 25, 1960, the three sisters were cutoff by Trujillo’s henchmen on their journey to visit their husbands, who were still incarcerated. They were dragged to a sugarcane field where they fought for their lives. Minerva, Maria and Patria were beaten and then strangled to death. Their bodies were placed back in their car, before said henchmen pushed it over a cliff in attempt to make it seem like an accident.

The Aftermath
After their tragic deaths, the revolution against Trujillo’s regime continued in their name, leading to his assassination shortly thereafter in 1961. In 1984, the United Nations named Nov. 25 the “Day of Non-Violence Against Women” in the honor of them. The last remaining Mirabal sister, Dedé, raised their six children and founded the Mirabal Sisters Foundation. She continued to keep their names alive, until her death in 2014.

READ: Juan Luis Guerra To Honor Dominican Women At NYC’s Dominican Day Parade

In The Time Of The Butterflies
Several films have been created based on the Mirabal sisters, the most popular and recent one being In the Time of the Butterflies. The film stars Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, Mía Maestro and Grammy-winning singer Marc Anthony. The movie won two ALMA Awards, one for Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie or Mini-Series, and another for Outstanding Actor/Actress in a Made for Television Movie or Miniseries.

In honor of my favorite book of all time and the anniversary of when the Hermanas Mirabal were assassinated by state agents in the Dominican Republic on November 25, 1960. They were Patria Mercedes Mirabal, Bélgica Adela Mirabal-Reyes, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal, and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, Dominican women who struggled to end Trujillo’s 30-year rule in the Dominican Republic. They helped form what became the June 14th Revolutionary Movement to oppose the Trujillo regime. Within the group, the Mirabals called themselves Las Mariposas (The Butterflies), after Minerva’s underground name. On November 25, 1960, three of the sisters were assassinated on Trujillo’s orders. The Mirabal sisters were the subject of Dominican-American author Julia Álvarez’s 1994 novel In the Time of the Butterflies, a fictionalized account of their lives, which was also made into a movie. In 1999, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in their honor. 💜💜💜 #hermanasmirabal #mirabalsisters #internationalviolenceagainstwomenday #violenceagainstwomen #dominicanrepublic #dr

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