the murder of the Mirabal sisters, activists against the Trujillo dictatorship



The 25N, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, commemorates the struggle of three Dominican women against the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Patria, 36 years old; Minerva, 34; and María Teresa, 25; They were brutally beaten to death along with the driver Rufino de la Cruz on the night of November 25, 1960, when the political activists were returning from visiting their jailed husbands in Puerto Plata (north). His vehicle was found at the bottom of a cliff with the lifeless bodies of the four.


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Patria, Minerva and María Teresa Mirabal, known as ‘Las Mariposas’, challenged the bloodthirsty Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo (1930-1961) and paid with their lives for it, becoming a symbol of the fight against violence against women .

In their youth, the role of Minerva, María Teresa and Patria against the repression of the dictator Trujillo was already a matter of public domain and they soon became benchmarks for a large part of the population. Minerva was the first Dominican woman to obtain a Law Degree and, together with her husband Manolo Tavárez, also a lawyer, led the creation of the ‘June 14th Revolutionary Movement’, a political group that fought the dictatorship.

The quadruple murder went unpunished, but it precipitated the fall of the dictator, assassinated six months later, on May 30, 1961. In honor of his struggle, in 1999 the United Nations established November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence. against Women.

The example of the Mirabal “is important because it came to set a date” for the fight against violence against women, Minou Tavárez Mirabal, daughter of Minerva and Manolo Tavárez Justo, a national hero and part of Movement 14, told EFE in 2020. June, whose members staged a failed expedition to overthrow the tyrant in 1959. In that interview, the former deputy pointed out the importance of not forgetting them “because, in general, women’s struggles are invisible, they tend to be erased, hidden, ignored, to pass a veil of opacity.”

The maternal home, where the three sisters took refuge in the last months of their lives due to political persecution, in 1994 became the Hermanas Mirabal House Museum, where their remains and those of Tavárez Justo rest. Their dresses, beds, furniture, as well as Minerva’s typewriter and Patria and María Teresa’s sewing machines remain intact thanks to the care, first of their mother and then Dedé, the only surviving sister of the sisters, who died in 2014.

If the example of these anti-Trujillo fighters “serves to prevent even a single death of a woman in the world, I imagine my mother saying: it was worth it,” said Tavárez Mirabal in that interview with EFE. Minou, a former candidate for the Presidency in the 2016 elections, recalled, however, that it was not a case of gender violence. Trujillo ordered the crime because the Mirabals organized “the largest opposition movement” that he had during his dictatorship.

In 1962, the perpetrators of this savage crime were sentenced to between 20 and 30 years. However, “two years later they were at large,” says Minou, and “protected” by the state itself. Nor was justice done to Tavárez Justo and his companions, murdered in 1963 in a “state crime,” he laments.

“The murderers of that national hero are on the loose, the murderers of the Mirabal sisters, national heroines, have been dying in their homes peacefully, protected, many of them, by the Dominican State and with salaries from the Dominican State,” he stressed.

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