By: Jamie Costa
SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic__ Wheels rolled over the damp pavement in the middle of the night as the Mirabal sisters were transported to visit their husbands at the prison up the road.
The car came to a jeering halt over the bridge as the girls were dragged out of the back of the truck; beaten, raped and thrown into the ravine where they were left for dead.
Local authorities would later find the girls and media would define it as a tragic accident.
But the family knew it was the work of Trujillo; one of the worst dictators in the history of the world. Trujillo had a way of getting away with murder and staging accidents around the country but after word got out of their death, all eyes turned to him.
Those who had worked in the resistance with the Mirabal sisters knew them to be educated and active women in politics. A rarity during that time, women were expected to stay home and raise the kids, clean the house, cook the meals. But the Mirabal sisters were quite the opposite. Between their political husbands and themselves, it was no wonder their plans for a resistance became a success. The house where they once lived and held meetings regarding Trujillo’s take down has become a memorial for their lives and their families.
Although the takedown of Trujillo was well underway, the death of the Mirabal sisters led many to be openly disgusted and verbally against Trujillo. Throughout his entire reign as dictator, he had never once experienced individuals attempting a resistance against him.
Even when he ordered the murder of over 15,000 Haitians, the people stayed loyal. When he raped and abused countless women, the people stayed loyal. It was only when he ordered the murder of the Mirabal sisters that their loyalty faltered.
Shortly after their death, he was assassinated. The car is displayed near the museum of the resistance that commemorates those who lost their lives or were active in his downfall. Bullet holes broke through the windshield, striking his body and killing him almost instantly. The assassinators stuck him in the trunk of his own car and hid it from the authorities.
The inside of the sister’s house is littered with their artwork, collections and clothing. Many could feel the presence of their souls; despair, agony and envy.
Despair because they died too young.
Agony because they left so much behind.
Envy because they can never leave.
Pictures are not allowed inside their home. The girls collected paintings and tea cups, practiced drawing and clay, knitted their own clothing for one another.
The yard outside stretches for miles in every direction with flowers, wildlife and kittens roaming the green grass and flowers. Their faces are everywhere outside, their feelings wander into our minds and their spirits latch on to us as we tour their home.
It was a heartbreaking experience for those of us who could feel their pain and intrusion as we looked over their personal belongings. Minerva’s hair was cut from her head by her sisters and places in a large, glass case in her room – leaves still clung to the dark mass from when they found her in the ravine.
Their bloody clothes are framed next to their belongings that they died with. A ripped and bloodied pink shirt, one stiletto covered in dirt, a butterfly hairclip.
The objects live on with their memory even though their bodies perished so long ago. A constant reminder of Trujillo’s dictatorship and the awful power that he possessed.
It is still said today that his regime lives on. That his spirit remains in his soldiers. That death will not escape those who betrayed him yesterday, today, or tomorrow.