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Mirabal sisters

Mirabal sisters: Patria, Minerva, María (from left to right)

The Mirabal Sisters (Spanish pronunciation: , Hermanas Mirabal) were four Dominican sisters who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, and were involved in clandestine activities against his regime.[1] Three of the sisters were assassinated on 25 November 1960. The assassinations turned the Mirabal sisters into "symbols of both popular and feminist resistance".[2]

In 1999, the sisters received recognition by the United Nations General Assembly, who designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in their honor.[3]


  • Sisters 1
  • History 2
    • Early life 2.1
    • Political involvement 2.2
    • Assassination 2.3
  • Aftermath 3
  • Legacy 4
    • In books and movies 4.1
  • See also 5
  • External links 6
  • References 7


Name Common Name Birthday Date of Death
Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes Patria 27 February 1924 25 November 1960
Bélgica Adela Mirabal Reyes Dedé 29 February 1925 1 February 2014
María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes Minerva 12 March 1926 25 November 1960
Antonia María Teresa Mirabal Reyes María Teresa 15 October 1935 25 November 1960


Early life

The house in which the Mirabal sisters lived for the last ten months of their lives is now a museum in Salcedo, Dominican Republic.

The Mirabal family were farmers from the central Cibao region in the Dominican Republic. Their daughters grew up in a middle-class, cultured environment raised by Enrique Mirabal Fernandez and Mercedes Reyes Camilo.[4] Unlike her sisters, Dedé never attended college, and instead worked as a homemaker and helped out with running the family business in agriculture and cattle.[5]

Political involvement

Influenced by her uncle, Minerva became involved in the political movement against Trujillo, who served as the country's official president from 1930 to 1938 and from 1942 to 1952, but ruled from behind the scenes as a dictator from 1930 to his assassination in 1961. Minerva studied law and became a lawyer, but because she declined Trujillo's romantic advances in 1949,[6][7] she was only allowed to earn a degree, but not have a license to practice law. Her sisters followed suit, first Maria Teresa, who joined after staying with Minerva and learning about their activities, and then Patria, who joined after witnessing a massacre by some of Trujillo's men while on a religious retreat. Dedé joined later, due to having been held back by her husband Jaimito.

Mirabal sisters

They eventually formed a group called the Movement of the Fourteenth of June (named after the date of the massacre Patria witnessed), to oppose the Trujillo regime. They distributed pamphlets about the many people whom Trujillo had killed, and obtained materials for guns and bombs to use when they finally openly revolted. Within the group, the Mirabals called themselves Las Mariposas ("The Butterflies"), after Minerva's underground name.[2]

Minerva and María Teresa were incarcerated but were never tortured due to mounting international opposition to Trujillo's regime. Three of the sisters' husbands (who were also involved in the underground activities) were incarcerated at La Victoria Penitentiary in Santo Domingo. Despite these setbacks, they persisted in fighting to end Trujillo's leadership.

In 1960, the

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  9. ^ Virgilio Pina Chevalier, La era de Trujillo. Narraciones de Don Cucho, p. 151.
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  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

See also

In books and movies

In 2005, Amaya Salazar.[19] In 2011, Banco del Progreso sponsored Dustin Muñoz to re-do the mural.[20]


After the assassinations of her sisters, Dedé devoted her life to the legacy of her sisters. She raised her sisters' six children, including Minou Tavárez Mirabal, Minerva's daughter, who has served as deputy for the National District in the lower House since 2002, and before that as deputy foreign minister (1996–2000). Of her own three children, Jaime David Fernández Mirabal, is the current Minister for Environment and Natural Resources and former vice president of the Dominican Republic. In 1992, she founded the Mirabal Sisters Foundation and in 1994 the Mirabal Sisters Museum in her hometown Salcedo.[5] She published a book, Vivas en su Jardín, on 25 August 2009.[12] She lived in the house where the sisters were born in Salcedo until her death in 2014, aged 88.[13]

However, the details of the Mirabal sisters' assassinations were "treated gingerly at the official level" until 1996, when Joaquín Balaguer was finally pressured to step down from his six terms of presidency over the course of 22 years. Balaguer had been Trujillo's protégé and was the president at the time of the assassinations in 1960 (though at the time he "distanced himself from General Trujillo and initially carved out a more moderate political stance").[11] A review of the history curriculum in public schools in 1997 recognized the Mirabals as national martyrs.[2] The post-Balaguer era has seen a marked increase in homages to the Mirabal sisters, including an exhibition of their belongings at the National Museum of History and Geography and the transformation of Trujillo's obelisk into a mural dedicated in their honor.

According to historian Bernard Diederich, the sisters' assassinations "had greater effect on Dominicans than most of Trujillo's other crimes", noting that "it did something to their machismo" and paved the way for Trujillo's own assassination six months later.[10]

The old house of the Mirabal family and the residence of Dedé Mirabal until her death on 1 February 2014, aged 88.[5]


After Trujillo was assassinated in May 1961, General Pupo Román admitted to having personal knowledge that the sisters were killed by Victor Alicinio and Peña Rivera, who were Trujillo's right-hand men. Ciriaco de la Rosa, Ramon Emilio Rojas, Alfonso Cruz Valeria and Emilio Estrada Malleta were all members of his secret police force.[8] Whether Trujillo ordered the secret police to kill them or whether they acted on their own is unknown. Virgilio Pina Chevalier (Don Cucho), a Trujillo family member, wrote in his 2008 book, La era de Trujillo. Narraciones de Don Cucho, that Trujillo said that the Mirabal assassinations had nothing to do with him. However, as Chevalier notes, "we know orders of this nature could not come from any authority lower than national sovereignty. That was none other than Trujillo himself; still less could it have taken place without his assent."[9]

On 25 November 1960, Patria, Minerva, María Teresa, and their driver, Rufino de la Cruz, were visiting Maria Teresa's and Minerva's incarcerated husbands. On the way home, they were stopped by Trujillo's henchmen. The sisters and the driver were separated and were clubbed to death. The bodies were then gathered and put in their Jeep where it was run off the mountain road to look like an accident.[6]


[6] On their remembrance website, Learn to Question, the author writes, "No matter how many times Trujillo jailed them, no matter how much of their property and possessions he seized, Minerva, Patria and María Teresa refused to give up on their mission to restore democracy and civil liberties to the island nation."[6]

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