The Mirabal Sisters were four Dominican political dissidents who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Influenced by her uncle, Minerva Mirabal 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. 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.

Two of the sisters, 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. Despite these setbacks, they persisted in fighting to end Trujillo’s leadership. 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 November 25, 1960, three of the sisters, Patria, Minerva, and 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. Trujillo was assassinated six months later.

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.

history meme - [5/5 assassinations] - The Mirabal Sisters

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