This Day in History

Nov. 25, 1960: Mirabal Sisters Murdered in Dominican Republic

Time Periods: Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Imperialism, Women's History

November 25 is officially United Nations designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and is celebrated annually in honor of three sisters who were brutally murdered for their resistance to the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

The Mirabal Sisters from left, Minerva, Maria Teresa and Patria.

The Mirabal Sisters from left, Minerva, Maria Teresa and Patria. Source: Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabal

As Allison Hinrichs writes in the article “The Revolutionary Murder of the Mirabal Sisters: How the Mirabal Sisters became national heroes of the Dominican Republic,”

On November 25, 1960 while on their way back from visiting their husbands, the sisters’ car was stopped by Trujillo’s henchmen. The assassins first killed the sister’s driver, Rufino de la Cruz, and then kidnapped the sisters at gunpoint. They were then strangled and beaten to death with clubs. The henchmen placed the sister’s bodies back in their car, pushed it off a cliff to make their deaths look like an accident. The Mirabal sister’s assassination served as a final catalyst for overthrowing Trujillo who was assassinated six months after their deaths. There were many instances that led to Trujillo’s demise but no other incident during Trujillo’s reign solidified his downfall more than the murders of the Mirabal sisters. . . . Today, almost every Dominican town bears a commemorative marker of the Mirabal sisters. Continue reading.

Ciara Nugent writes for Time magazine’s 100 Women of the Year series,

After the transition to democracy in the late 1970’s, the Butterflies, as Dominicans call the sisters, became symbols of both democratic and feminist resistance. A fourth Mirabal sister, Dede, who was less actively involved in the resistance, survived the regime and helped continue her sisters’ legacy until her death in 2014, setting up a foundation and a museum in their name. The United Nations made the date of their death the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Continue reading.