Las Hermanas Mirabal: The Butterflys

Another great stop on our trip was a visit to the final house and resting place of three of the Mirabal sisters. If you’ve never heard of them, you should check out: mirabal-sisters-article. The TL;DR version is there were 4 Mirabal sisters: Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa and Dede. The first three listed, led by Minerva and her husband, started a movement resisting the Dominican dictator Trujillo and they became known as the butterflies. Trujillo didn’t like this, made their lives miserable and finally, on Nov. 25, 1960, had the three sisters assassinated. However, the sisters had grown to be quite loved by the Dominican population, so their deaths were pretty much the last nails in Trujillo’s coffin (he was assassinated 6 months after).

We read and discussed the Mirabal sisters’ legacy a lot before actually visiting their home, which definitely helped enrich our tour. The house is in Salcedo, a smaller town about 50 minutes from Santiago; the three sisters who were assassinated lived in the house for about 10 months before their untimely deaths. The fourth sister, Dede, went on to live in a house nearby, in Ojo de Agua, which we also visited. She took in her sisters’ children and also worked on spreading the word about her sisters’ legacy against Trujillo until her death in 2014.

The houses and their grounds are kept in pristine conditions, especially the house in Salcedo. The dining room table is set as it was the night the girls were murdered, since they were expected to come home for dinner and never arrived. The house in Salcedo is where Minerva, her husband Manolo, Patria and Maria Teresa are buried. The monument to them is symbolic of three things: stone for eternity, water for life and an unfinished pyramid to represent their lives, cut short.

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Dede’s house in Ojo de Agua is also beautiful. Since her death in 2014, visitors have been allowed on the grounds but only family has been allowed in her house. In front of the property stands the chassis of the jeep the sisters were riding in on the night of their assassination. The family still owns many banana and cacao trees, which grow on the property, so we got to see what cacao looks like raw! We also got to try it too – there’s a white, slimy substance that surrounds the seed and has a pretty strange consistency, in my opinion. They also had freshly roasted cacao beans, so we got to try that as well – it was like eating super dark, bitter chocolate.

Below are some photos from our day but they really do little to capture the lasting impact the Mirabal sisters (all four of them) had on us as a class and on the Dominican Republic as a nation.

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