On February 1st, Dominican pro-democracy activist Belgica Adela Mirabal died due to pulmonary problems at the age of 88. The following day, thousands of people including President Danilo Medina and her family participated in the funeral march for the woman lovingly nicknamed "Doña Dedé."
As we mentioned in a November 2012 post, Dedé was one of the Mirabal sisters, a quartet of very brave women who stood in the face of a brutal dictatorship. The following text comes from that post:
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was created via a resolution
approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. The draft
resolution for the date was introduced by the representative of the
Dominican Republic, which was no coincidence since November 25th
represents a dark day against women’s rights in that Caribbean country.
The Mirabal sisters
(Patria, Dedé, Minerva and Maria Teresa) were four political dissidents
opposed to the authoritarian rule of strongman Rafael Trujillo. They
were known as Las Mariposas (The Butterfly Sisters), a nickname
that came about due to their efforts for freedom and democracy in their
country. Despite dangers such as harassment from the police and the
imprisonment of three of their husbands the sisters forged ahead and
became symbols of the Dominican resistance movement.
The Trujillo regime’s campaign to silence the Mirabal sisters came to a
climax on November 25, 1960. On their way home after visiting their
incarcerated husbands, three of the sisters were intercepted by a group
of soldiers. Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa and their driver were choked
and beaten to death. The assassins brazenly tried to cover up the
murder as an auto accident.
The plan to murder the Mirabal sisters backfired for the government and
became a rallying cry against the Trujillo dictatorship. Support for
Trujillo decreased as more people defied the repression and spoke out in
opposition to his rule. Approximately six months after the Mirabal
sisters were murdered Trujillo was ambushed and killed.
The spirit of the Mirabal sisters has lived on in popular culture
through novels such as In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Álvarez
and films like 2010’s Trópico de Sangre. The surviving Mirabal sister,
Dedé, helped create a museum in memory of her slain sisters and has
campaigned for the rights of Dominican women. This week, for instance,
Dedé and Álvarez lent their names to a petition criticizing a proposed Penal Code reform that will allegedly infringe the rights of women and children.
The following video examines the legacy of the Mirabal
Sisters and includes comments from Dedé on her courageous siblings:
Online Sources – United Nations; El Bohio Dominicano; DiarioLibre.com; Dominican Today
Video Source - AARP via YouTube