La Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabal / The Mirabal Sisters House Museum
The Hermanas Mirabal Museum is located in the second home of the Mirabal family in Conuco, Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo). It is such a beautiful way to remember the 3 sisters who gave their life for the country they loved and the fourth sister who worked to preserve their memories.
The Mirabal Museum is Dedés way to maintain the memory of her 3 sisters before she passed in 2014. Dedé (Bélgica Adela) Mirabal-Reyes used to greet many of the visitors to the museum personally. She is so missed but her family is carrying on the museum and the tradition. Sharing with the world the wonderful stories of the Mirabal Sisters.
The grounds are immaculately kept. I love the butterflies, representing their secret group called Las Mariposas, displayed throughout the grounds. It is a beautiful garden and so tranquil.
Here are displays of much of the family’s personal effects. Included in the collection is María Teresa’s embroidery and Patria’s teacup collection. In each of the girls rooms are many of their personal items, handkerchiefs, their sewing machines and each of their favorite dresses. I enjoyed seeing the kitchens they had, both indoor and outdoor with many of the original utensils used during that time.
The most powerful items in the collection are the artifacts of the sisters’ murder: the shoes, handbags, and papers, as well as the long braid of hair which Dedé cut from María Teresa’s head in the morgue. The blood stained handkerchief that came from the murder scene is heartbreaking. When I saw this it brought tears to my eyes as it is a very moving and touching display.
Located on the property is also a library, bookstore, and souvenir shop.
The Mirabal Sisters Museum/ Museo de las Hermanas Mirabal
Open for Guided tours Tuesday through Saturday. No pictures are permitted to be taken inside the museum.
Contact: 809- 577-2704
Directions: Km 1, Carretera Salcedo Tenares, Conuco, Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), Dominican Republic
On November 25, 2000 (the fortieth anniversary of the Mirabal sisters’ assassination) the remains of the sisters were moved to the grave site on the museum grounds. Here the three sisters are buried together along with Manolo, Minerva’s husband. Dedé is buried in the original family vault, where years before the remains of his three sisters and Manolo Tavarez rested, located at Cementerio Viejo, Ojo de Agua.
The United Nations General Assembly designated November 25, the day the sisters were killed, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The Original Home
The original Mirabal home is still located close to the museum in Ojo de Auga. Here the surviving sister, DeDé lived until her death on February 1, 2014. The gardens are beautiful and so well kept. It is a working farm where they grow orchids and Cacao.
Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal and Ecoparque de la Paz/ Peace Ecopark and Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal
In the park across the street from the original home in Ojo de Auga, Salcedo, where the sister DeDe lived is a small park called Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal. Here is a unique monument that represents 3 butterflies. You can also see the chassis of the jeep from which the ladies took their fateful ride. There is damage to both the front and rear of the vehicle because of the staged crash.
The Park Ecoparque de la Paz/ Peace Ecopark dedicated to the Mirabal sisters is a few feet across the street and down the road from the family home. Funding for this beautiful park is provided by the Fundación Hermanas Mirabal. The organization was originally chaired by Bélgica Mirabal (DeDé) now her son Jaime David Mirabal and Minú Tavarez Mirabal oversee the family history. The park has three paths representing the three sisters who died.
The park was designed by architects Michelle de la Cruz, Paloma Hernández y Oliver Guillén. It is a beautiful monument to these 3 patriotic ladies and their sister who remembered them with such grace and love. Thank you to the Mirabal family and all who keep these memories so beautifully.
El Obelisco Macho del Malecón / The Male Obelisk on the Malecon in Santo Domingo.
The 137 foot tall Obelisk that Trujillo had built was to bring honor and recognition to himself. Now it honors the women he had brutally murdered, the 3 Mirabal Sisters.
The obelisk was painted with “A Song to Liberty” by Elsa Nuñez. It was converted to honor the Mirabal sisters, painted with the three women Trujillo had murdered. It was unveiled on March 8, 1997 in honor of International Women’s Day.
The Hermanas Mirabal are 3 women who followed their convictions with bravery and selflessness to fight for what they believed. Fighting against the Dominican Republic dictators rule they felt was wrong. Three of them – Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa – gave their lives for their cause when 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 because 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.
“What matters is the quality of a person. What someone is inside themselves ” — Maria Teresa Mirabal
Las Hermanas Mirables/ The Mirabal Sisters. 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). Women who fought to overthrow the dictatorship of President and Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo.
Three of the ladies – Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa – gave their lives for their cause when some henchmen, following the the orders of Trujillo, killed them savagely and brutally. The 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, lovingly presered their memories until her death in 2014.
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.
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)
The four Mirabal sisters are the daughters of Enrique Mirabal Fernández and Mercedes “Chea” Reyes Camilo.
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.
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.
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”
La Puerta de Charles III / The Gate of Charles III and El Portal de la Fortaleza/ The Gate of the Fortress – 1787
The original entrance to the Fortaleza Ozama dates from 1557-1564. The doors, The Gate of Charles III, that are still here now came almost 2 centuries later in 1787 and was named after King Charles III of Spain. Made from imported African ebony these were built during the reign of the king for which it is named. Built when there was much economic prosperity thus their elaborateness. They wanted it to be impressive as this was main entry to the fort, the first thing all visitors saw.
When entering this magnificent gate you can’t help but to be impressed. Just imagine how it might have felt to enter those gates into the grand arcade and garden. Beyond was the imposing tower and military buildings. Plus all the activity that might have been going on inside the fort during its hey day.
It is interesting to note holes in the doors. These holes are from bullets fired during the United States second invasion of Dominican Republic in 1965 U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson sent 42,000 marines and soldiers to protect their interests during the Revolución de Abril de 1965 when the country was in a state of civil war.
(2.) The Statue of Oviedo – 1977
The bronze Statue of Oviedo was created in 1977 by Spanish artist Joaquín Vaquero Turcios to honor Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés. Oviedo was governor of the fortress and also warden of the prison from 1533 to 1557.
Under the administration of Oviedo Santo Domingo reached its most brilliant period in the settlements history. Because of Oveidos geographical and administrative knowledge, every captain, military person, chief, discoverer and conqueror visited his office for advice. The legend states that when he was killed he held the keys to the gate. These keys had to be pried from his dead hand. Oveido was the first chronicler of the Indies and had an official title and salary. He wrote “Historia General y Natural de las Indias” while holding his paid post under His Majesty Charles V.
(3.) La Torre del Homenaje – 1503.
Torre del Homenaje / The Tower of Homage, resembling a medieval castle, was build inside the fort by Nicolás de Ovando in 1503. Ships were hailed from the top of this monstrous looking building. It has very little ornamentation and looks very serious and sobering. This tower, with its 2-meter thick walls, was the tallest building (18m) in the entire colony in the 16th century. It was the only building of its type in the New World.
The main gate faces north where is the remains of the coat of arms of Charles V that the Haitians tried to remove during their occupancy, but somehow this was saved.
The Tower has served many purposes in its long history. Don Diego Colon, Admiral Christopher Columbus’ son, and his wife, Doña Maria of Toledo (she was a relative of King Ferdinand the Catholic) stayed here while their new home, The Alcazar de Colon, was being built. The family lived on the second floor and the servants lived on the first.
Entering the towers main floor there is a small courtyard. On the far side is an opening where you can look down into a brick dungeon. This is where Juan Pablo Duarte was held during the Haitian occupation in 1836. It was also a prison where many political figures were jailed. Peña Gómez, Juan Bosch and Bienvenido Peynado all had the distinction of being incarcerated there. The north wing was the residence of the warden. The South wing held an arsenal and a cistern.
The window like openings in the tower are called ojos magicos/ magic eyes. Through these openings the person on the inside could watch the comings and goings on the outside without being seen. These openings provided a great advantage when it came to defending the area. It was easy to shoot out the small “eye” and very difficult trying to shoot into the thin line from the outside.
(4.) Armory Polvorín – 1787
Armory Polvorín de Santa Bárbara / The Arsenal is a rectangle shaped building and was constructed in 1787. The walls are 3 meters thick and there is only 1 door. Above the door is a small niche that holds the figure of Santa Bárbara, the patron saint of the gunners. The door is topped with a coat of arms picturing the Golden Fleece, the royal emblem of Charles 3. The Armory was surrounded with its own defenses of which one can see only its remains. Inside the armory is a large vault where gunpowder, weapons and ammunition were stored. The polvorín was intended to resemble a church to mislead the pirates.
(5.) Plataforma de Tiro Baja / The Low Shooting Platform – 1570 , built in 1570, has a series of embrasures for the cannons and other arms for battle. This platform was used to protect the port with low-level fire. The ramp let the cannons be moved to where they were needed most.
(6.) Plataforma de Tiro Alta / The High Shooting Platform – 1650 provided protection to the port from a high range of shooting. Note: All the cannons here now came from ships that were sunk during the colonial period.
(7.) La Primera Obra
The remains of la Primera Obra/ The First Fort Constructed, all that is left of the first or provisional fort can be seen. This was built in the beginning of the 16th century at the same time the tower was erected. All that can be seen now is the shape of 3 chambers (two small and 1 large) within the outline. The cannons laying inside the remains are not from the original fort. They were all removed over the years, probably sold for their iron.
(8.) The Old Army Barracks
When Spain sent a strong battalion around 1789 new and stronger quarters were built along Calle Las Damas. The old surrounding wall, dated around the 16th century, was integrated with the new parallel wall. The remains of the second wall can still be seen. These walls supported the roof of the barracks.
(9)El Fuerte de Santiago – 1567
Fuerte de Santiago / The Fort of Santiago was the first line of defense for the Fortress. It was built with stone and brick in 1567. All that remains are four arches and a small part of the original floor. Inside the fort you can block out the surroundings and really imagine what it might have been like in the late 1500’s.
The original sentry house/ Garita Ozama on the farthest point inside the fort is still there.
(10.) Casa de Bastidas
Casa de Bastidas/ House of Bastidas was built next to the Tower of Homage/ Torre del Homenaje in the early 16th (XVI) century around 1505. This 3 thousand square meter home has beautiful arches, a large patio and a long corridor along with Roman columns. Rodrigo de Bastidas, who was Honorary Mayor / Alcalde Ordinario of Santo Domingo in 1512 and the founder of many different South American cities. After his tragic death in Cuba his son Bishop Rodrigo de Bastidas and grandson lived in the house. It was occupied by the family heirs for more than a century.
The building was redone and updated in the eighteenth century (XVIII) when a small image of the virgin Santa Barbara was added. Now is is beautifully restored bringing back, for all to see, the marvelous times of colonial Santo Domingo. It is not the home of the Museo Infantil Trampolín.
More information about the Casa de Bastidas.
(11.) Muralla de Felix Benito
There are 2 different walls surrounding the Fort. The inside stone wall is the original. The coral wall bordered on the Rio Ozama and the Caribbean Sea (you can see the picture below dated 1910). The waters edge came very close to the old walls. This wall is not as thick as the interior walls. If there was an explosion the wall would fall outward to the river restricting any possible damage.
The higher, newer wall dates only to the time of Trujillo. This wall was constructed by the Puerto Rican Félix Benito. The purpose of the wall was to separate the fort from the newly constructed port facility. The road on the outside of this tall wall was made from river fill when they dredged the Rio Ozama to create the access road around the old city and to create new larger port facilities. Much of the old structures were lost in the creating of the port and the road Aveneda George Washington also known as the Malecon.
This is a picture of the Fortaleza Ozama as seen from Rio Ozama in 1910. This is before they made the road around the Colonial City, Avenida George Washington, and put up the stronger walls for safety for the road.
All You Want To Know About The Oldest City In The Americas
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