The Mirabal Sisters “Las Mariposas” inspired the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.
The Mirabal Sisters
Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes, Antonia María Teresa Mirabal Reyes, and María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes.
Witnessing a massacre by government forces inspired the Mirabal sisters to become active in opposition to the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. The sister’s codename for their group was Las Mariposas (The Butterflies).
After a lot and harassment including stints in jail, Trujillo’s agents assassinated three of the sisters in Salcedo, Dominican Republic on November 25, 1960.
“In the Time of the Butterflies”
The story is preserved in the historical novel, “In the Time of the Butterflies” (1994) by Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez. It’s also a movie starring Salma Hayak, Edward James Olmos and a young Marc Anthony. Repertorio Español occasionally performs a stage adaptation of “En el Tiempo de las Mariposas” based on the novel.
Between Santiago de los Caballeros and Puerta Plata
In 2023, we are working from Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic. The Mirabal Sisters are quite famous here. Many Santiagueros like to spend weekends on the beach in Puerto Plata. On our first trip to Puerto Plata, we got a chill on the road over the mountains and thought of the sisters. We asked and sure enough it was where they were murdered by Trujillo henchmen.
United Nations “Orange the World”
In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly honored the sisters’ bravery by declaring November 25, “The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.”
The UN reports that in a study of 87 countries between 2005 and 2016, 19% of women age 15 – 49 suffered physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in the prior year. That’s one in five.
Orange is the color of the UNITE to End Violence against Women campaign. It symbolizes a future without violence.
What Does it Mean to Us Now?
If you look at a map of countries that treat women poorly, the map exactly matches the map of countries that are being torn apart by poverty and war.
No country can expect to succeed in today’s globalized world by marginalizing half their population. You can’t compete with the world with only half of your people.
We hope this means that more women will run for office. It is the best way to bring real and lasting change.