The sisters and their husbands were leading figures in a movement to bring democracy to the country
On 19 October 1999, the UN representative of the Dominican Republic introduced a draft resolution calling for the designation of 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
November 25th was chosen in memory of the Mirabal sisters
In 1923, Enrique Mirabal Fernandez married Mercedes Reyes Camilo, better known as Chea.
A year later their eldest daughter Patria was born.Don Enrique was a farmer and merchant born in a town of Santiago called Tamboril.
He owned his own farm, shop, coffee mill, meat market, and rice factory.
Patria was born on February 27, 1924, the anniversary of the Dominican Republic's independence. For this reason she was given the name "Patria" which means "fatherland." Patria had an affinity for painting and art. She was sent to Colegio Inmaculada Concepción, a Catholic boarding school in La Vega, at the age of fourteen, along with her sisters Dedé and Minerva. At seventeen, Patria married Pedro Gonzalez, a farmer. They had four children: Nelson Enrique, Noris Mercedes, Raul Ernesto, and Juan Antonio (who sadly died five months after his birth).
For their part in the attempts to overthrow Trujillo, the ever-religious Patria and the anti-trujillista Pedro had their property and home seized by the government.
Nonetheless, Patria supported her sister Minerva in her anti-government efforts, and opposed Trujillo because she was concerned for the future of the country's children.
"We cannot allow our children to grow up in this corrupt and tyrannical regime, we have to fight against it, and I am willing to give up everything, including my life if necessary." Patria Mercedes Mirabal
Minerva, born on March 12, 1926, showed signs of intelligence even at a young age. By the time she was seven years old, she could recite the verses of French poets. She was sent to the Catholic secondary school Inmaculada Concepción at the age of twelve with her sisters Patria and Dedé. She graduated in 1946, having studied Letters and Philosophy. She enjoyed writing and reading poetry, especially that of Juan Pablo Neruda. Like Patria, she also liked art, especially that of Pablo Picasso.
She attended the University of Santo Domingo, where she met Manuel (Manolo) Tavarez Justo. The two married on November 20, 1955, and moved to Montecristi. They had two children: Minu and Manolito.
In December of 1949 she was placed under house arrest when her father, Don Enrique was being held in Fortaleza Ozama Prison.
"…it is a source of happiness to do whatever can be done for our country that suffers so many anguishes, it is sad to stay with one's arms crossed…" Minerva Argentina Mirabal
Maria Teresa, the youngest of the Mirabal sisters, was born on October 15, 1936. She attended Inmaculada Concepción after the rest of her sisters. In 1954 she graduated from the Liceo de San Francisco de Macorís in Mathematics, and then went to the University of Santo Domingo to study math.
On February 14, 1958, she married the engineer Leandro Guzmán, and on February 17, 1959, gave birth to their daughter Jaqueline.
Maria Teresa followed and admired Minerva, and became involved in her sisters' political activities.
On January 20, 1960 she was detained at a military base in Salcedo and freed the same day.
Two days later, on January 22, she and Minerva were arrested and taken to La Cuarenta, the infamous torture prison, and then transferred to La Victoria.
They were freed on February 7, 1960. On March 18, 1960, she and Minerva were once again taken to La Cuarenta, having been sentenced to five years for threatening the security of the state (this sentence was reduced to three years on appeal). The two sisters were freed on August 18, 1960.
"… perhaps what we have most near is death, but that idea does not frighten me, we shall continue to fight for that which is just…" Maria Teresa Mirabal
The celebration was attended by Don Enrique Mirabal, Patria, Patria's husband Pedro Gonzalez, Minerva, Dedé, and Dedé's husband Jaime Fernandez. The outdoor party was soon interrupted by a storm. Amidst the chaos of the downpour, the Mirabals took the opportunity to make their exit.
Trujillo was angered by this "lack of respect" (nobody was supposed to leave a party of Trujillo's before El Jefe himself) and he had one of his men call a military post and order that the Mirabals' vehicle be stopped. It was too late, however; Don Enrique's party of six had already passed the post.
Juan Rojas, the local governor of the Espaillat province, suggested that Enrique send a letter of apology to the dictator.
Don Enrique obliged, but this didn't appease Trujillo. The next day, Don Enrique was jailed in the capital Santo Domingo (renamed Ciudad Trujillo during his regime).
They were held in the Hotel Nacional. Minerva was taken to the Fortaleza Ozama every day to be interrogated about her political activities while Doña Chea remained in the hotel.
The interrogations were conducted by two of Trujillo's men, Fausto Caamaño Medina and Manuel de Moya.
Minerva was accused of being a communist and told to write a letter of apology to Trujillo. She refused.
Some friends of Minerva's — Violeta Martinez and Emma Rodriguez — were detained a few days later.
Being a well-to-do family, the Mirabals had their connections.
Friends and family appealed to Trujillo's brother to talk to him and soon Don Enrique, Doña Chea and Minerva were all released.
Two years later, all three were detained again.
Enrique was taken to the Ozama Fortress while the women were placed under house arrest in the Hotel Presidente.
The reason given by the regime for the arrest was that Enrique had failed to buy a book about Trujillo.
El Jefe most likely wanted to put Minerva in her place. Her obvious contempt for the iron-fisted dictator angered him.
The three prisoners were freed a few weeks later.
He took the capital, Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere and renamed it after himself - Cuidad Trujillo. Then he filled it with 2,000 statues of himself.
He named the highest mountain Pico Trujillo. And his hometown region Trujillo Province.
He turned the national motto into “God and Trujillo,” had it put on the currency, on license plates, and a giant electric sign looming over the capital.
Don Enrique became sick, and his health continued to deteriorate until his death on December 14, 1953.
Despite her good grades, Trujillo ordered that she be barred from attending the university, in large part due to her thesis paper, "The Principle of the Irretroactiveness of Laws and Dominican Jurisprudence," in which she suported basic human rights and made suggestions for changes in the government.
Despite this roadblock, Minerva returned to the university years later and graduated on October 28, 1957.
The university was where she met Manuel Aurelio Tavarez Justo, the man she would marry.
The ever-religious Patria abandoned ideas of becoming a nun to marry Pedro Gonzalez, a farmer, on February 24, 1941.
She abandoned her studies to go live with him on a plot of land in Conuco.
One year when Minerva was in Jarabacoa helping her uncle run his pharmacy, she met up with Manuel Tavarez (or Manolo as he was often called).
Minerva and Manolo had much in common; both were ardently anti-Trujillo and both desired liberty and social change. Minerva was by now a well-known anti-trujillista, and Manolo had acquaintances in the Popular Socialist Party. Minerva and Manolo married on November 20, 1955. Meanwhile the youngest sister Maria Teresa was developing a relationship with Leandro Guzmán, an engineer and anti-trujillista. The pair married on February 14, 1958.
Dubbed the Luperion Invasion, this attempt to topple the dictatorship was halted by Trujillo's army and air force, but it did manage to plant a seed of rebellion in the Dominican people.
In June 1959, Patria attended a spiritual retreat in the mountains where she found herself witness to a massacre of revolutionaries.
"Coming down that mountain I was a changed woman.
I may have worn the same sweet face but now I was carrying not just my child, but that dead boy as well. My stillborn of 13 years ago, my murdered son of a few hours ago.
They met me on the road coming into town. All of them were sure I had been singed to nothing from what they had heard on the radio about the bombing.
No, Patria Mercedes had come back to tell them all, tell them all. But I couldn't speak."
This was the inspiration for the name of a political group organized for internal resistance: The 14th of June Movement.
Manolo was the president of this group. A man by the name of Pipe Faxa was its secretary general, and Leandro Guzmán was the treasurer. A short time after the failed Luperion Invasion, the Dominican Liberation Movement organized another conspiracy which continued in the 1960's.
On January 10, 1960, they met on a farm in Mao, Valverde belonging to Conrado Bogart. The regime apparently knew of this meeting because all who attended were arrested.
More than 100 members of the 14th of June Movement were arrested. The majority were taken to La Cuarenta, Trujillo's infamous torture prison.
The arrests of so many young people generated anti-government feelings. The arrests were even condemned by the Catholic Church.
Trujillo was aware of the growing anti-regime sentiments and in order to stave off some of the criticism he freed all the women he had jailed.
Later on, he also freed the men who had been jailed only for suspicion. However, Manolo, Pedro and Leandro, the husbands of Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa respectively, remained in jail.
They posed a great threat to his regime, as they had become well-known and admired all over the island. No matter how many times Trujillo jailed them, no matter how much of their property and possessions he seized, Minerva, Patria and Maria they refused to give up on their mission to restore democracy and civil liberties to the island nation.
Trujillo chose Victor Alicinio Peña Rivera, his right-hand man, and some members of his secret police force, Ciriaco de la Rosa, Ramon Emilio Rojas, Alfonso Cruz Valeria, and Emilio Estrada Malleta.
It was nighttime when they left the jail, and a rainstorm was already underway. As they drove along the Carretera Santiago-Puerto Plata,a road between the two cities, their Jeep was stopped by the aforementioned henchmen of Trujillo.
As it is very difficult, if not impossible, for a person who was not present at the murders to accurately tell this part of the story, a narration of the act as recounted by one of the actual murderers is more appropriate. This excerpt, as narrated by Ciriaco de la Rosa, is from the Dominican Encyclopedia 1997
“After stopping them, we led them to a spot near the chasm where I ordered Rojas to pick up some sticks and take one of the girls, he obeyed the order and took one of them, the one with the long braids [Maria Teresa]. Alfonso Cruz chose the tallest one [Minerva] and Malleta the driver, Rufino de la Cruz.
I ordered each one to go to a sugar cane grove on the edge of the road, each one separated so that the victims wouldn't sense the execution of one another. I ordered Perez Terrero to stay and see if anyone was coming who could find out about the situation. That's the truth of the situation. I don't want to deceive justice or the state. I tried to prevent the disaster, but I couldn't, because if I had, he [Trujillo] would have killed us all.”
This horrific act did have consequences for Trujillo.
Their Jeep was pushed over a cliff to make it seem like an accident, but everyone knew Trujillo had ordered the killing.
The murder of three defenseless women was the last straw for the Dominican people.
This was the beginning of the end of the Trujillo regime.
He was the victim of an ambush plotted by Modesto Diaz, Salvador Estrella Sadhalá, Antonio de la Maza, Amado García Guerrero, Manuel Cáceres Michel (Tunti), Juan Tomás Diaz, Roberto Pastoriza, Luis Amiama Tió, Antonio Imbert Barrera, Pedro Livio Cedeño, and Huáscar Tejeda.
According to U.S. reporter Bernard Diederich, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) planned the operation to kill the dictator. In a report to the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, CIA officials described the agency as having "no active part" in the assassination and only a "faint connection" with the groups that planned the killing.
However, an internal CIA memorandum states that an Office of Inspector General investigation into Trujillo's murder disclosed "quite extensive Agency involvement with the plotters." G. Pope Atkins writes that "the CIA arranged, planned and executed the assassination" using their elite paramilitary operations officers from the Special Activities Division.
Trujillo's family tried to flee with his body upon his boat Angelita, but were turned back. His funeral was that of a statesman with the long procession ending in his hometown of San Cristóbal, where his body was first buried. President Joaquín Balaguer gave the eulogy. After this, the people voted for the Trujillo family to leave the country, so his son, Ramfis Trujillo, came back to relocate his father's body outside of the country. Trujillo was buried in Paris, in Père Lachaise Cemetery, at the request of his relatives.
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