Category Archives: People In History

Las Hermanas Mirabal – The Mirabal Sisters

Las Hermanas Mirabal/ The Mirabal Sisters

Las Hermanas Mirables/ The Mirabal Sisters. Four Dominican women, daughters and mothers from the town Ojo de Agua in the providence of Salcedo, Dominican Republic (Note – As of Nov. 2007 the province is officially named Hermanas Mirabal). They are the daughters of Enrique Mirabal Fernández and Mercedes “Chea” Reyes Camilo.

“What matters is the quality of a person. What someone is inside themselves ” — Maria Teresa Mirabal

Patricia, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabal - Original Images Owned by the Mirabal Family
Patricia, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabal – Original Images Owned by the Mirabal Family

These women followed their convictions with bravery and selflessness to fight for what they believed. To fight against a dictator’s rule they felt was wrong. Three of them – Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa – gave their lives for their cause. Some henchmen, following the the orders of Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, killed them savagely. The four sisters and the group they were involved in were a threat to this commanding dictator. They were involved with plotting to over throw Trujillos cruel, ruthless and fascist government. The remaining sister, Dedé, preserving their memories until her death in 2014.

The story of the Sisters known as the Mariposas | Patricia Mercedes | Minerva Argentina | Maria Teresa | Dedé (Bélgica) | The International Day Against Violence Towards Women | Links – Video – Documental Las Mariposas: Las Hermanas Mirabal | The Mirabal Museo/ Museum (page2) | The Original Mirabal Home | The Park Ecoparque de la Paz | The Obelisk on the Malecon/ El Obelisco Macho del Malecón

Trouble With Trujillo

The families’ first real run in with Trujillo was at a party to which they were invited. Trujillo had his eye on Minerva so he had the family invited to another party. All but Chea, the mother, went as they were afraid to refuse the “request”. Trujillo was very enamored with Minerva and danced and engaged her in conversation. When she refused his advances the family abruptly left the party. This infuriated Trujillo so he had the father, Don Enrique arrested (no one was permitted to leave a party before Trujillo) and incarcerated in the Fortelaza Ozama in Ciudad Trujillo (Santo Domingo). Minerva and Doña Chea along with Minervas friends Brunilda Soñé, Enma Rodríguez, Violeta Martínez (from Moca) and Violeta Martínez (from San Francisco) were arrested the following day.

Every day Minerva was taken to the Fortaleza Ozama and interrogated by Trujillo’s men. She refused to write a letter of apology to Trujillo. Since the family was well connected, they knew the right people. They got the brother of Trujillo, with whom they were acquainted, to intercede for them and have the family members that were imprisoned released.

They were always in fear of Trujillos men and again were arrested a few years later. This constant fear and stress led to Don Enrique, the girls’ father, death on December 14, 1953.

In 1956 their mother, Chea, moved to a new home she had built. She felt too lonely in the old family home after the death of her husband. This home, after the mothers death on January 20, 1981, was converted into the Museo de las Hermanas Mirabal / Mirabal Sisters Museum.

The Mirabal girls married went to school, had children, living what appeared to be normal lives. When things just were too much to bear any longer they decided enough was enough. They had a meeting with their friends to find some way to stop Trujillo and his reign of terror over the Dominican people. The group the Mirabal sisters helped form that fought against the Trujillo regimen was known as al Movimiento 14 de Junio/ The Movement of the Fourteenth of June. The sisters were known as Las Mariposas/ The Butterflies.

Original founders and first committee of the Revolutionary Movement 14 of July/ Movimento Revolucionario 14 de Julio
Original founders and first committee of the Revolutionary Movement 14 of July/ Movimento Revolucionario 14 de Julio

Movimiento 14 de Junio/ The Movement of the Fourteenth of June

The young people of the Movimento Revolucionario de 14 de Julio held secret meetings working against the dictator. But, there was a trator among. Within a few weeks most all the group of young people, mostly upper middle class, had been arrested and taken into custody. At the end of that month, more than a hundred members of 14 de Julio were caught. Most of them were subject to indescribable torture at the prison “La 40” and a few were killed.

Finally, under pressure from the Catholic Church, Trujillo permitted the women to go free on parole and later some of the mens freedom followed. Many of the important leaders were kept in prison still including Manolo Tavares and Leandro Guzmán, husbands of Maria Teresa and Minerva. The dictator kept the men imprisoned hoping that it would make the ladies shut up and stop their activities, but it did not.

The End of Las Mariposas

On November 25, 1960 Trujillo decided he had enough of the sisters trouble making and decided it was time to get rid of them. Trujillo helped to set up a meeting between the sisters and their husbands where they were incarcerated. He sent his men to intercept the three women on their return home from their visit.

The women had an idea that something was up and hired a strong jeep and driver to help insure their safety to no avail. The sisters’ car was stopped around 7:30PM. They were led into a sugarcane field. Here the sisters and their driver were mercilessly beaten and strangled to death. Then their car was taken to a mountain known as La Cumbre, between Santiago and Puerto Plata, and thrown off.

Trujillo thought he was finally free of “the problem”. What happened next was just the opposite of what he had hoped. The plan failed. The people of Dominican Republic, along with the Catholic Church, were outraged. These ladies lives were cut short because of their convictions. Trujillo, with this action, brought more attention to the rebellion. Instead of eliminating the people working to over throw his dictatorship this action brought its downfall. This contributed to his assassination on May 30, 1961, only six months later. (more on Trujillo)

A 10 cent Dominican Republic stamp from 1985 to commemorate the death of the Hermanas Mirabal
A 10 cent Dominican Republic stamp from 1985 to commemorate the death of the Hermanas Mirabal

Patria Mercedes (the eldest sister, was born on February 27, 1924). She was leaning towards being a nun when she met and married Pedro Gonzalez. They had 4 children.

This butterfly is one of the many located throughout the gardens at the Hermanas Mirabal Museo
This butterfly is one of the many located throughout the gardens at the Hermanas Mirabal Museo

Minerva Argentina (the second sister, was born on March 12, 1926) is the one that initially got involved with the underground movement to overthrow the government. While she was away at school she found that she had friends whose families had been tortured by Trujillos men. With this her eyes were opened. She was always a bit of a rebel and hated when someone or something was wronged.

Minerva went to University in Santo Domingo (which at that time was called Ciudad Trujillo) and was granted the right to study to become a lawyer. She did complete her studies to become a lawyer, the first woman accepted to study this profession, but she was denied the right to practice law and was never granted her diploma. She had a keen interest in politics which is what led her to meet the leader of the Popular Socialist Party and start her fight for freedom of the country. This was the perfect cause for her. She married Manolo (Manuel Tavarez) who was also anti-Trujillo activist. They had 2 children,

Maria Teresa (Maté) (the youngest sister, was born on October 15,1936) was seeing Leandro Guzmán (they had 1 child) who was also involved in the anti-Trujillo movement. They worked together for the over throw of Trujillo’s government.

Bélgica "Dedé" Adela Mirabal
Bélgica “Dedé” Adela Mirabal

Dedé, her given name was Bélgica, she was born February 29, 1925 (her birth was filed on March 1st so this is her legal birthday). She is the sister that was not with the rest of the sisters on that tragic day. She dedicated her life to preserving her sisters memory. She had 9 children, one of which is Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal. He served as the vice-president during Leonel Fernández’s first term as president between the years of 1996 and 2000.

Bélgica Adela Mirabal, the last surviving sister, died at age 88 at 3 PM on February 1, 2014 of pulmonary fibrosis. Her family was at her side.

Video – Documental Las Mariposas: Las Hermanas Mirabal “The death of the Mirabal sisters marked the modern history of the Dominican Republic. In turn, the ideals of those who died have been an example and inspiration to the world.”

The International Day Against Violence Towards Women

The International Day Against Violence Towards Women was accepted on December 1999. At the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly was adopted Resolution 54/134. This resolution declared November 25th the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day was chosen because on November 25th, 1960 is when the three Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa, from Dominican Republic were violently assassinated for their political activism. The sisters, known as the “Unforgettable Butterflies,” became a symbol of the crisis of violence against women in Latin America. This date was chosen to commemorate their lives and promote global recognition of gender violence, and has been observed in Latin America since the 1980s. “When you mistreat a woman you stop being a man” / “Cuando maltratas a una mujer dejas de ser un hombre”

The complete story of the Mirabal Sisters in Spanish

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Diego Colón

Diego Colón (Columbus) 1480 – 1526

Diego Colón

Diego Colón was the first born son of Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colón). He was thought to have been born in Lisbon or Porto Santo, Portugal. Felipa Perestrello e Moniz, Diego’s mother, died when he was 4 years old.

From a very young age Diego belonged to the Spanish court as page of the prince Don Juan and later he was a page to the queen.

Diego married Maria de Toledo in 1508. María de Toledo y Rojas o María Álvarez de Toledo was the Granddaughter of the First Duke of Alba, Niece of the Second Duke of Alba, Cousin of King Ferdinand II of Aragón El Católico, and Great-Niece of the Catholic Kings. Because she was of noble lineage and her family had much influence in the Spanish court, this allowed Diego to obtain official recognition and thus granted him many privileges.

Governor of the Indies

In 1509 Diego Columbus was named Governor of the Indies when he arrived in Hispaniola to replace Nicholas de Ovando. He was accompanied by his wife, uncles, their brother Fernando and a large following.

During the government of Diego Columbus in Hispaniola Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica were also conquered by the Spanish.

Alcazar de Colon – Home of Don Diego Colón

As soon as Diego settled in the colony and built his residence, The Columbus Palace/ Alcazar de Colon, he began to grant privileges to the people who arrived with him. All were given homes and property and many were granted seats in the government. This favoritism caused much discourse among many residents of the island. These residents complained before the court and demanded better treatment by the Governor. Fed up with the special treatment Miguel de Pasamonte, the Treasurer formed a group called The Servants of the King. They formed to oppose the governing group. To stop the fighting between the two groups the monarch created the Real Audience, a court that reduced the powers of the governor.

One of the many problems that confronted the Governor was how the Dominican priests defended the Indians. The defense of the Indians was initiated by Fray Antón de Montecinos. He gave a sermon that demanded better treatment for the natives. The governor and other authorities were all present when Montecinos made his famous speech in 1511. Montecinos was made Viceroy of the Indies in May 1511, remaining in charge until 1518.

Diego Returns to Spain

The many conflicts in Hispaniola forced the king to replace Diego Columbus and he returned to Spain. After being in Spain for a few years he again gained the favor of the king. Diego returned to his governorship in 1520.

Two years later the first rise of the black slaves took place. This new government was calmer than the previous one. Still King Carlos V finally suspended, for the second time, the son of Christopher Columbus from the government of Hispaniola.

Columbus returned to Spain in 1523. According to the capitulations of Santa Fe that were signed by Columbus and Catholic Kings, all the titles that were granted to Christopher would be inherited by Diego. Yet, when Diego died in 1526 he never got the promised recognition of the inherited rights that were promised to him by his father.

Casa de Juan Viloria

Casa de Juan Viloria

Don Juan Viloria build his beautiful home around 1520. The house was painstakingly restored in 1977. The striking Arab styled interior patio and gallery are very unique. The patio is surrounded by impressive stone arches.

Casa de Juan Viloria
Casa de Juan Viloria

Don Juan Viloria

was an important person in the original colony. He originally lived in La Vega where he was Marshall. Viloria was Governor executor of possessions for Diego Columbus. The family Colón trusted Juan completely.

Viloria was the only person permitted to serve the people of royalty. He was considered to be the Copero de los Reyes Católicos (Butler of the Catholic Monarchs).

Calle las Mercedes
Calle las Mercedes

Location: Calle Mercedes #4 between Calle las Damas and Isabel la Católica. It is next to the Casa de Gárgolas.