*Four* Women to Know: The Mirabal Sisters

It is sad to stay with one's arms crossed. — María Mirabal

(image via Vibe)


The three Mirabal sisters — Maria Theresa, Minerva and Patria — plotted revolution at their kitchen table. The dictator Rafael Trujillo's secret police patrolled the Dominican Republic, silencing activists and terrorizing women. When the oldest Mirabal sister, Minerva, refused the dictator's advances and even slapped him in the face at a party, Trujillo dedicated his life to ruining the Mirabal family — and they dedicated their lives to ending his tyranny.

The sisters organized a massive underground resistance in the 1950s, publishing radical materials, running arms and even cooking homemade firecrackers at their kitchen table. The three sisters became known as "The Mariposas" ("The Butterflies"), beloved figures representing the DR's resistance movement. When their 1960 assassination attempt on Trujillo failed, the three sisters and their husbands landed in jail, only to be released days later after an international outcry.

But that didn't deter Trujillo. With the sisters released and welcomed back into the revolutionary fold, the secret police organized an ambush. Trujillo jailed the Mirabal husbands in a remote prison, luring the sisters to a treacherous mountain pass. There, on Nov. 25, 1960, the secret police slaughtered the sisters and rolled their jeep off a cliffside, staging an accident. that didn't fool Dominican revolutionaries.

But it didn't fool the Dominican revolutionaries. The sisters' brutal deaths galvanized the resistance. Within six months, the surviving Mariposa revolutionaries toppled Trujillo's regime. Today, the Dominican Republic commemorates the Mirabal sisters with local monuments and memorials — and worldwide, the United Nations honors the day of their assassination, Nov. 25, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

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