The Mirabal sisters were four Dominican political dissidents who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Three of the sisters were assassinated by persons unknown. In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 (the anniversary of the murder of the Mirabal sisters) as the annual date for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in their honor.
Patria Mercedes Mirabal (February 27, 1924 – November 25, 1960), Bélgica Adela "Dedé" Mirabal-Reyes (March 1, 1925 – present), María Argentina Minerva Mirabal (March 12, 1926 – November 25, 1960) and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal (October 15, 1935 – November 25, 1960) were citizens of the Dominican Republic who fervently opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Dedé Mirabal was not assassinated and has lived to tell the stories of the death of her sisters. As of 2010, Dedé lives in Salcedo, Dominican Republic in the house where the sisters were born. She works to preserve her sisters' memory through the Museo Hermanas Mirabal which is also located in Salcedo and was home to the women for the final ten months of their lives. She published a book Vivas en El Jardín, released on August 25, 2009.
The Mirabal women grew up in an upper class, well-cultured environment. Their father was a successful businessman. All became married family women. Minerva became particularly passionate about ending the dictatorship of Trujillo after talking extensively with an uncle of hers. Influenced by her uncle, Minerva became more involved in the anti-Trujillo movement. She studied law and became a lawyer, but because she declined Trujillo's romantic advances, he ordered that while she would be issued a degree she was not to receive her practitioner's license. Her sisters followed suit, and they eventually formed a group of opponents to the Trujillo regime, known as the Movement of the Fourteenth of June. Within that group, they were known as "The Butterflies" (Las Mariposas in Spanish) because that was the underground name that Minerva was given. Two of the sisters, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, were incarcerated and tortured on several occasions. Three of the sisters' husbands were incarcerated at La Victoria Penitentiary in Santo Domingo.
Despite these setbacks, they persisted in fighting to end Trujillo's leadership. After the sisters' numerous imprisonments, Trujillo was blamed for their murders, but this is now being questioned. During an interview after Trujillo's assasination, General Pupo Roman claimed to have personal knowledge that they were killed by Luis Amiama Tió. On November 25, 1960, the dictator sent men to intercept the three women after they visited their husbands in prison. The unarmed sisters were led into a sugar cane field and executed. They didn't even have the luxury of being shot, instead they were beaten to death, along with their driver, Rufino de la Cruz. Their car was later thrown off of a mountain known as La Cumbre, between the cities of Santiago and Puerto Plata, in order to make their deaths look like an accident.
On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 (the anniversary 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.
In 1994, Dominican-American author Julia Álvarez published her novel In the Time of the Butterflies, a fictionalized account of the lives of the Mirabal sisters. The novel was adapted into the 2001 movie In the Time of the Butterflies, starring Salma Hayek as Minerva, Edward James Olmos as Trujillo, and singer Marc Anthony in a supporting role.
Chilean filmmaker Cecilia Domeyko produced "Code Name: Butterflies", a documentary that tells the real-life story of the Mirabal sisters. It contains interviews with Dedé Mirabal and other members of the Mirabal family in the Dominican Republic.
Actress Michelle Rodriguez acted in the film adaptation of the true story of the sisters called Trópico de Sangre. Rodriguez plays Minerva Mirabal and also co-produced the film. Dedé Mirabal, the real-life surviving sister, participated in the development of the film.
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- UN. "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women". http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/news/vawd.html. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
- PaginasAmarillas.com.do. "Museo Hermanas Mirabal". http://www.paginasamarillas.com.do/CityGuides/listing.aspx?artID=4. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
- Amazon. "Vivas en el Jardin". http://www.amazon.com/dp/0307474534. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
- de Jesus Dominguez, Jaime (2006). Historia Dominicana. L.G. Breve. p. 255. ISBN 9945-410-11-3.
- IMDB. "Tropico de Sangre". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1691016/. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
- "Michelle Rodriguez Producing and Starring in Historical Feature"; March 25, 2008
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