The Mirabal sisters — commonly known as Las Mariposas (the butterflies) — are being honored in Washington Heights. The City Council of the City New York organized to have a street named after the brave Dominican activists and specifically in the largest Dominican neighborhood in New York.
If you read Julia Alvarez’s book or saw the movie In The Time of the Butterflies, you’re probably familiar with the late Dominican sisters who were known for their activism against Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo who was often referred to as “El Jefe” was a brutal dictator throughout most of the 30s, 40s, and 50s and became known for abusing his power by kidnapping and raping young women and torturing and assassinating anyone who defied his regime. This went on for decades. There were actually four Mirabal sisters, Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and Dede. But Minerva, Patria, and María Teresa were the ones that were most heavily involved in defying Trujillo and his regime.
The sisters caught the attention of Trujillo who had people in his administration scout out beautiful young women throughout the Dominican Republic to bring back to him. The Mirabal sisters at this point were married and it was shortly after this that the sisters started to fearlessly go against Trujillo, letting others know of his abuses. The family was later under constant surveillance by the Dominican military and anyone associated with the family were taken in for questioning and were often imprisoned or tortured.
The sisters along with their spouses and other family members eventually started a movement known as the Movement of the Fourteenth of June in an attempt to have Trujillo overthrown. The three sisters were arrested and sentenced to three years in prison. The regime was eventually forced to let them out but eventually had them assassinated. Their assassinations eventually lead to Trujillo’s downfall and the sisters have been seen as historical heroes ever since — especially for the Dominican community since the sisters are largely credited for the ending of the Trujillo regime.
In honor of their courage, the southeast corner of 168th St. and Amsterdam Avenue will be named after the sisters.
“They stand as inspirational and visionary activists for social and political justice and role models to generations of women since their untimely death in 1960 at the hands of the Dominican tyrant Trujillo,” NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez wrote in a statement. “The southeast corner of 168th St. and Amsterdam Avenue will be co-named Mirabal Sisters Way.”
The Mirabal Sisters are a symbol of social justice and liberation. This is a historical moment that we honor the women who fought for equality and against tyranny in the Dominican Republic. I’m so proud to present Mirabal Sisters Way at 168th St. & Amsterdam Ave. pic.twitter.com/Hfr1UtQxQF
— Ydanis Rodriguez (@ydanis) February 10, 2019
A street co-naming ceremony in Washington Heights took place this past weekend and included the Mirabal Sisters Cultural &. Community Center, Alta Gracia Mirabel (the late sisters’ cousin) and member’s of the city’s Dominican community.
This is such an amazing way to honor the sisters’ legacy. We will never forget their bravery and their noble efforts.