Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal were typical Dominican women of the 1950s. They married, had children and were housewives and mothers. However, they lived in terrible times, under one of the worst dictatorships the world has known.  Rafael Leonidas Trujillo had come to power in 1930, and kept his people in a constant state of terror by brutally torturing, and assassinating all who opposed him.

The Mirabal sisters secretly opposed the regime.  In the late 1950s, Minerva, the second of the sisters led others to plot against the government by forming a secret movement to topple the regime.  The sisters' husbands had joined their cause and became a part of the secret movement.  Trujillo soon found out about the dissident group and had the sisters and their husbands imprisoned.  However, he was forced free them because international pressure had been mounting against his regime.  He had kept the husbands of the Mirabal sisters in prison.

Maria Teresa is dragged to the sugar cane field
The sisters visit their imprisoned husbands in Puerto Plata


Minerva first rebels against the Trujillo regime

On November 25th of 1960, as the women and their driver traveled to visit their husbands who were jailed in a distant part of the country, Trujillo had his henchmen intercept their jeep and assassinate them. They were taken to a sugar cane field and beaten, and then strangled. Their bodies were placed in their jeep, which was then pushed over a cliff to make it seem like an accident. 

This was a method that Trujillo had used before so no one in the country believed that the women had died in an accident. Everyone knew Trujillo had killed them. The Mirabals' death so angered everyone, especially young people, that a group of conspirators who had not dared to act before, decided to move forward and assassinate the tyrant.  In May of 1961, as Trujillo and his driver were on route to an outlying part of the city, their car was ambushed, and the dictator killed.

The Mirabals' death was a catalyst for change, and was the first event in a long sequence of events that led to freedom and democracy in the Dominican Republic.  In 1984, the United Nations designated November 25th, the day of the Mirabals' death, the "Day of Non-Violence Against Women" in honor of the sisters.  Dede Mirabal, fourth and surviving sister, who took over the guardianship her sisters' children, has devoted her life to preserving their memory.  In the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters are now national heroines and cities, towns, schools and institutions have been named after them.

Sponsored by The Mariposa Cultural Foundation | Copyright 2008