Reading: The Mirabal Sisters

On the 25th November 1960, Minerva Mirabal lay dead in a jeep at the bottom of a gorge together with her sisters Patria and Maria Teresa, and the driver of the vehicle, Rufino de la Cruz. The four occupants of the vehicle were killed in what had been staged to look like a simple traffic accident. And were it not for the fact that the mangled bodies in the wreck had belonged to the famous Mariposa (Butterfly) sisters, everything may have gone to plan. Political activists from the Dominican Republic, the sisters had dared to openly challenge the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, for which they had finally paid with their lives.

Back in 1957, having finally finished her law degree, Minerva decided to pursue a career in the field. But her plans were soon dashed when Trujillo himself denied her a licence to practise as a lawyer. Minerva had reportedly rejected the dictator’s romantic advances at a party in 1949, and this was his way of letting her know she had made a grave error in doing so.

Set on putting her skills to other uses, Minerva then became increasingly active in underground politics. Her sisters soon joined her in political activism and they eventually formed a group called the Movement of the Fourteenth of June, (named after the date of a massacre Patria had 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 later, when they would finally revolt.

Minerva and Maria Teresa, along with their husbands were imprisoned for their subversive activities. But with growing international pressure on Trujillo’s regime, the sisters were released, and only their husbands remained in detention. It was on their way to visiting their husbands in prison that the supposed ‘accident’ occurred. Stopped at a roadblock by Trujillo’s henchmen, the sisters and the driver were ordered to get out of their vehicle, separated, and clubbed to death. The bodies were then gathered up and put back in their Jeep, which was run off a mountain road.

Although it took several more years for the truth of what happened that day to emerge, finally, on 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate November 25 as the annual date of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in commemoration of the Mirabal sisters. The day also marks the beginning of a 16-day period of Activism against Gender Violence. The end of the 16 days, on 10 December, is noted as International Human Rights Day.

(Adapted from various sources)

Click “Start” to reload.

Click “Start” to reload.

Related Class: Domestic Violence