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Birgit Lang, Starke Frauen, daring women, Schwestern Mirabal, mirabal sisters

The Mirabal Sisters

The Mirabal Sisters | Regime opponents, resistance fighters
Patria Mirabal | * 27.2.1924 | + 25.11.1960
Minerva Mirabal | * 12.3.1926 | + 25.11.1960
María Teresa Mirabal | * 15.10.1935 | + 25.11.1960

The three sisters Patria, Minerva and María Teresa Mirabal were resistance fighters brave enough to stand up to a violent regime. The dictator Rafael Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic during the 1950s with fear, terror and oppression. The sisters and their husbands joined the ‘4th of June Movement’, with the goal of overthrowing Trujillo and installing peace and democracy in their country. 

Their clandestine resistance activities were carried out using the code name, ‘Las mariposas’ or ‘The butterflies’. The sisters’ activism was unique because of the way they worked together as a unit, demonstrating courage and strength in their unified stand. The whole family combined forces to fight for their country and its people. 

Although they were imprisoned, tortured and raped, they never gave in or betrayed their allies. The three sisters and their husbands were arrested after a failed coup in 1959. International pressure led to the women being released, but Trujillo later had them kidnapped and murdered. 

On 25 November 1960 on their way back from visiting their husbands in prison, Patria, Minerva and María Teresa were ambushed and killed by Trujillo’s secret services in the mountains. The murders were made to look like a car accident. The family had the sisters’ bodies examined, even though this was explicitly forbidden. It soon became clear that the young women had been attacked, strangled, and put back in their jeep that was then pushed down a steep slope.

The assassinations caused Trujillo to lose any remaining support he had in both his own and neighbouring countries. He was later assassinated in May 1961.

The Mirabal sisters have become legends. Their courage inspires women worldwide to resist injustice and fight for their rights. The 25 November, the day the three sisters were murdered, has been designated the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women’.

Patria, Minerva and María Teresa Mirabal were mothers and fighters who were both smart and beautiful. They continue to symbolise strength and femininity to this day.