• Tue. May 28th, 2024

Movie-Lovers Get a Glimpse of the Dominican Republic’s Most Famous Heroines 

Building 7 played host to a dramatic screening that told the tale of some of Latin America’s most celebrated heroes. Members of the public and Sinclair’s extended family had a chance to watch “In the Time of Butterflies” last week courtesy of the campus’ Diversity Office. As if an acclaimed movie about some of the most legendary figures in recent American history was not enough, snacks were also provided. 

The movie was originally released in 2001 and is based on the novel of the same name by award-winning author Julia Alvarez. It tells the story of the Mirabal sisters and their struggle against the Dominican Republic’s fascist dictator Rafael Trujillo. Veteran Spanish auteur Mariano Barosso directed the movie, which stars Oscar nominee Salma Hayek, Latin singing sensation Mark Antony, and the acclaimed Edward James Olmos of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Blade Runner” fame. 

While intense, the onscreen clash between the sisters and Trujillo paled in comparison to their real-life struggle, which precipitated the end of a dark chapter in Latin history. Coming from a rural family, Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Dede Mirabal would each earn the ire of the ruthless dictator for several reasons. They ran the gamut from refusing his sexual advances, clandestine support for revolutionary causes, having relationships with revolutionaries, and their advocacy for a free Dominican Republic. Three would be killed by Trujillo’s assassins while Dede would live until 2014. 

Trujillo’s murder of the three sisters is widely regarded as the spark that led to the end of his dictatorship. In a little over three decades in power, Trujillo committed acts of genocide, changed the name of Santo Domingo to Ciudad Trujillo, and subjected his own population to massacres among other crimes against humanity. That his reign of terror was brought down by four women continues to inspire activists internationally. Since 1981 activists have commemorated Nov. 25 as  the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in honor of the Mirabal sisters.

While well-received, Barosso’s big-screen depiction of the sisters is far from the only one. Cecilia Domeyko’s 2009 film, “Code Name: Butterflies”, is regarded as the first documentary to tell the sisters’ story according to IMDB. Additionally, in 2010 the Dominican director Juan Delancer would helm the festival-darling “Tropico de Sangre”, which starred Michelle Rodriguez as Minerva Mirabal. 

Ismael David Mujahid, Executive Editor