The Mirabal sisters deserve more recognition

Eduardo Alvarez/ Contributing Writer


Instead of choosing one great woman, I picked the story of Patria, Dedé, Minerva, and María Teresa Mirabal; four Dominican sisters – three of whom died fighting Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship.

Born in a middle-class rural neighborhood in Salcedo, Dominican Republic, the sisters soon became involved in political resistance to Trujillo’s regime, which had come to power after a U.S. occupation and years of shady political maneuvering.

Trujillo quickly proved himself to be one of the most terrible butchers in the Western hemisphere — killing, kidnapping, and destroying with little consequence. He was also known for sexually abusing countless women.

Though they were many times arrested, beaten and threatened, the women continued their energetic struggle with the 14th of June movement. The movement fought the tyrant through military resistance and boisterous propaganda.

However, the regime was powerful. On Nov. 25, 1960, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa were taken by hitmen, placed into the back of a Jeep and strangled. The Jeep was then tossed over the edge of a cliff to simulate an accident.

Dede was the only Mirabel sister left and lived until her death in 2014. The sisters were described by all who knew them as principled, intelligent and patriotic. But they are not just national heroines of the Dominican Republic.

The day of their murder was declared by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The commemoration puts in perspective the beauty of their life and the brutality of their death.

In the larger context of women’s liberation, the Mirabal sisters represent spirited resistance to what were certainly the worst possible vices of an oppressively masculine tyrant.

They also represent the protagonism of common people in the face of political turmoil. Indeed, nothing about the Mirabal sisters would indicate on face value their political trajectory or legacy.

In this spirit, the sisters teach us to judge people based on their character and merit, and that even the most powerful of rulers can be brought down by even the most humble.

And even though they are revered worldwide, I have heard little of them in American schools, even when we reflected on the great female figures of our past.

Patria, Minerva, María Teresa, and Dedé are universal heroines whose figures ought to be brandished alongside those of Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash.

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