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Who are the Mirabal Sisters?

In the Grip of the Goat

Imagine living in a world with no freedom. A world where your every action is monitored. A world where you are beaten and tortured for speaking your mind. A world where your family is killed because they dare to speak out against a despotic ruler. This is the world into which the Mirabal sisters were born, and it is inevitable that they would revolt against the harsh dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina. A closer look at El Jefe’s tyranny, and the social conditions under which the sisters lived, will give us a better understanding of their heroic actions.

Trujillo was born in San Cristóbal on October 24th, 1891. His parents were poor and of mixed race, but despite this Trujillo managed to become the ruler of the Dominican Republic. After joining the National Guard during the US occupation of the Dominican Republic, Trujillo was trained by the US Marines. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the commander of the National Army, and in 1930 he ousted President Horacio Vasquez (Rafael Leónidas Trujillo). Also know as “El Chivo” or “The Goat”, Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic, both as President and behind the scenes, until his death in 1961 (The Feast of the Goat).

Trujillo did make some positive changes during his reign. He increased the value of the Dominican peso, paid off the national debt, and the infrastructure he created in the Dominican Republic is still in existence today. However, the evil of his deeds far outweighs any good he did. He took away the basic freedoms of his people; he terrorized, tortured, and killed anyone who opposed him, and he built up a personal fortune through the sweat and pain of the people he ruled (Era de Trujillo). He was an arrogant, unfeeling tyrant, and it is little wonder that an underground movement was created to overthrow his form of government.

At the center of the underground movement to remove Trujillo from power were the Mirabal sisters, Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa. There was also a fourth sister DeDe, but she was prevented from joining the movement by her overbearing husband. The sisters were raised in a privileged environment, but they gave up this privilege to fight for their freedom. Their husbands, except for DeDe’s of course, were also involved in the underground movement. (Mirabal sisters)

Early events in her life cause Minerva to question the politics of her country. Through friendships made at school, she was able to learn firsthand the horrors of Trujillo’s regime, and while still a schoolgirl she was forced to ward off sexual advances from “the Goat”. She was imprisoned for the first time shortly after that rejection. Patria and Maria Teresa, along with their husbands, joined their sister in this underground movement, and they became known as Las Mariposas, or The Butterflies. (One Book, One Chicago)

Due to their clandestine activities, the girls “were incarcerated and tortured on several occasions” (Mirabal sisters). Despite the hardships they faced, the Mirabal sisters persevered in their fight for freedom. In the end, Trujillo knew he had to get rid of them, and he did so in typical dictator fashion. On their way home from visiting their husbands in prison, the Mirabal sisters were stopped by Trujillo’s men. They and their driver were then beaten to death. The outcry after this event was tremendous, and ultimately resulted in the assassination of Trujillo. (Mirabal sisters)

The courage and heroism of the Mirabal sisters is still celebrated today. Their fight for freedom has inspired people around the globe and has helped many to realize that one person can make a difference in the world. Although it is extremely sad that the cost of their fight for freedom was their own lives, their bravery lives on as a symbol to us all.


"Era de Trujillo." El Bohio Dominicano. 14 Aug. 2005 <>.

"Mirabal sisters.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 10 Aug. 2005. Wikipedia . 13 Aug. 2005 <>.

"One Book, One Chicago." The Trujillo Regime and the Butterflies. Chicago Public Library. 14 Aug. 2005 <>.

"Rafael Leónidas Trujillo." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 10 Aug. 2005. Wikipedia . 13 Aug. 2005 <>.

"The Feast of the Goat." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 10 Aug. 2005. Wikipedia . 13 Aug. 2005 <>.