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The Hermanas Mirabal (Spanish pronunciation: [erˈmanas miɾaˈβal], Mirabal Sisters) refers to four Dominican political dissidents who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. On November 25, 1960, three of the sisters were assassinated. In 1999, the sisters received recognition by the United Nations General Assembly, who designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in their honor.
|Name||Common Name||Birthday||Date of Death|
|Patria Mercedes Mirabal||Patria||February 27, 1924||November 25, 1960|
|Bélgica Adela Mirabal-Reyes||Dedé||March 1, 1925||N/A|
|María Argentina Minerva Mirabal||Minerva||March 12, 1926||November 25, 1960|
|Antonia María Teresa Mirabal||María Teresa||October 15, 1935||November 25, 1960|
The Mirabals were farmers in the Dominican Republic. Their daughters grew up in a middle-class, cultured environment. Their father's name was Enrique Mirabal Fernandez and their mother's name was Mercedes Reyes Camilo. The four sisters married and raised families.
Influenced by her uncle, Minerva became involved in the political movement against Trujillo, who had been the president of the country from 1930 to 1938 and from 1942 to 1952, and afterwards, became its dictator. Minerva studied law and became a lawyer, but because she declined Trujillo's romantic advances in 1949, 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.[how?] 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 who 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.
|This section requires expansion with: need details on the many activities they did to oppose Trujillo, magazine and newspaper articles, what kind of support they got from the people and the public, and events that would lead to their arrest, imprisonment and targeted for assassination. (November 2012)|
Minerva and Maria Teresa were incarcerated and tortured on several occasions. Three of the sisters' husbands (who were also involved in the underground activities) were incarcerated at La Victoria Penitentiary in Santo Domingo.[why?] Despite these setbacks, they persisted in fighting to end Trujillo's leadership.[how?] In 1960, the Organization of American States condemned Trujillo's actions and sent observers. Minerva and Maria Teresa were freed, but their husbands remained in prison. 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 Maria Teresa refused to give up on their mission to restore democracy and civil liberties to the island nation."
On November 25, 1960, Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and driver Rufino de la Cruz were visiting Patria 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.
After Trujillo was assassinated in May 1961, General Pupo Roman admitted to have 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 Vlaeria and Emilio Estrada Malleta were all members of his secret police force. The question of whether Trujillo ordered the secret police or whether they acted on their own is unconfirmed. Virgilio Pina Chevalier (Don Cucho), Trujillo's family member and intimate collaborator, wrote in his 2008 book, La era de Trujillo. Narraciones de Don Cucho, that Trujillo refers to the Mirabal assassinations as being far from anything to do with him. "But 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."
|This section requires expansion with: more description on impact of assassinations; how did the government change after Trujillo was killed? who did they influence? who else in their family got involved?. (November 2012)|
Dedé Mirabal has lived to tell the stories of the death of her sisters. As of 2012, Dedé lives in Salcedo 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 su Jardín, on August 25, 2009.
On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 as the annual date of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in commemoration of the sisters. The day also marks the beginning of a 16 day period of Activism against Gender Violence. The end of the 16 days, on December 10, is noted as International Human Rights Day.
The Mirabal sisters are also commemorated on the 200 Dominican pesos bill. They are seen as heroes in the Dominican Republic, as Trujillo's empire crumbled after their death.
The story of the Mirabal sisters has been told in books and in films.
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 of the same name. The movie starred Salma Hayek as Minerva, Edward James Olmos as Trujillo, and singer Marc Anthony in a supporting role.
The story is fictionalized in the children's book How the Butterflies Grew Their Wings by Jacob Kushner.
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 Dominican members of the Mirabal family.
Actress Michelle Rodriguez co-produced the film Trópico de Sangre which recounts the lives of the sisters. She also stars in the film as Minerva. Dedé Mirabal also participated in the development of the film.
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