Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dominican Liberation

Public opposition against Trujillo is memorialized in the story of the three Mirabal Sisters who are remembered as national heroes.  The eldest sister, Patria, born on the anniversary of the Dominican Republic's independence, was sent to Inmaculada Concepción, a Catholic school in La Vega.  Her three sisters Dede, Minerva and Maria Teresa followed her.  There, Minerva became involved in the underground movement to over throw Trujillo through the influence of school friends whose relatives had been tortured and killed by Trujillo's army.  Trujillo had his own designs the beautiful Mirabel girls.  In October 1942 Trujillo hosted a party to commemorate Columbus's discovery of the Americas to which he invited the Mirabal family. The girls really did not want to attend but there was no way to refuse.  When a huge storm came up in the middle of the party, they seized the chance to escape.  Trujillo reacted swiftly to this slight and called an armed guard to force them to return.  Trujillo had Don Enrique, the father of the family put in prison and placed the girls and their mother under house arrest where Minerva was interrogated every day.  Throughout the 1950's the members of the Mirabal family were routinely thrown in prison and harassed.  On June 14 1959 the Dominican Liberation Movement, led by Minerva's husband, attempted to topple Trujillo's dictatorship, but failed. More and more young middle class Dominicans joined the movement and Trujillo began arresting thousands of young people and imprisoning them for their opposition. The Catholic Church intervened and officially condemned the arrests. Catholic schools and universities, including those run by Dominican Sisters, provided refuge and support for the underground liberation movement and were threatened with closure by the state.