“After catching them, we led them to the place near the abyss, where I ordered Rojas Lora to pick up sticks and take one of the girls away. He carried out the order on the spot and took one of them, the one with the long braids, Maria Teresa. Alfonso Cruz Valerio chose the tallest, Minerva, I chose the shortest and chubby, Patria, and Malleta the driver, Rufino de La Cruz. I ordered each one to go into a cane field on the side of the road, all separated so that the victims would not witness the execution of each one of them. I tried to avoid this heinous crime, but could not, because I had direct orders from Trujillo and Johnny Abbes García. Otherwise, they would have killed us all ”.
(Testimony of Ciriaco de la Rosa, one of the murderers, before the court, June 1962).
The party of the goat is possibly the last great book of Mario Vargas Llosa. Not only because of the brilliant style of the three stories it contains – and that is only one -: also because of the reconstruction (perfect clockwork) of the resistance plan to kill the tyrant. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, master and lord of gallows and knife who ruled the Dominican Republic from August 16, 1930 until the night of May 30, 1961, when he finished his drunkenness of omnimous power riddled with shots on the highway that connects Santo Domingo with San Cristóbal. He was killed by the conspirators Juan Tomás Díaz (retired general), José Román Fernández, Antonio De la Maza (in revenge: Trujillo ordered the assassination of his brother), and Amado García, his personal custodian.
The Dominican people – who for years had called him “padrecito” – breathed the first breath of freedom. Nobody forgot the thousands of imprisoned, tortured, murdered in the dictator’s dungeons. And much less the greatest and most painful symbol of resistance: the Mirabal sisters. The butterflies.
María Teresa, Patria, Minerva and Belgium Adela (Dedé) Mirabal Reyes They were born and raised in a rural home with a good economic level in Ojo de Agua, municipality of Salcedo. Their father, Enrique, a successful businessman, made them study as interns at the Inmaculada Concepción de La Vega School, run by Spanish nuns of the Franciscan Order of Jesus. A balanced and happy world. But Trujillo was to end it all. And also, among so many abuses, with almost all the fortune of Enrique Mirabel.
His daughters, except Dedé, did not take long to understand that that grotesque tyrant covered in false medals – he decorated himself – who called himself El Jefe, El Generalissimo, El Chivo (for his alleged sexual vigor), El Padre de la Patria, also branded El Chapita for his chest adorned with chaphalonia, it would be the germ of national destruction. The Father of Chaos.
And it did not take long for join the resistance against that “huachafo (corny) and criminal dwarf,” as Vargas Llosa defined him. The opposition group was called June 14th in memory of a failed insurrection against Trujillo that day in 1959. But hiding was walking a tightrope on the verge of breaking. Almost the entire country was controlled by the sinister SIM (Military Intelligence Service), whose maximum and most perfidious brain was a certain Johnny abbes, later replaced by the sailor Candido Torres Tejada, and in the end by Jose (Pupo) Roman Fernandez, both military and skilled heads of the whistleblower networks and the sinister Chivo prisons.
Two of the Mirabel sisters went to one of these prisons (La Victoria) several times: Minerva and María Teresa, both married and mothers, and also their husbands. All suffered torture, and they, in addition, rape. But La Bestia Negra – another nickname for Trujillo – was not satisfied. On May 18, 1960, the two and their husbands were tried “for attempting against the security of the Dominican State” and sentenced to three years in prison. But it was a trap.
Just three months later, on August 9 and strangely, the tyrant ordered that Minerva and Maria Teresa be released, but not their husbands. A disguise of generosity for the tragedy that was brewing: in reality, everything was decided beforehand, and step by step.
First act. Trujillo ordered General Román to move the husbands of the sisters to the Salcedo prison, to avoid the long journey from their homes to the Victoria prison. Second act. Lieutenant Víctor Alicinio Peña Rivera receives these instructions from General Román, which he will recall much later in his memoir: “We must arrange for the transfer to Puerto Plata of the spouses of the Mirabal sisters. The justification for the transfer will be the discovery of clandestine weapons directed at the movement they lead. The idea is that they help us determine if the people arrested are members of that movement. Once this is finished, you can tell them that they will be returned back to Salcedo. Once transferred, you will prepare an ambush on the road for the Mirabal sisters. They must die. A car accident will be simulated. That is the boss’s wish”.
The next day, the police corporal Ciriaco de La Rosa arrived at the SIM headquarters in Santiago, requested four agents and a vehicle, Peña Rivera designated Alfonso Cruz Valerio, Emilio Estrada Malleta, Néstor Antonio Pérez Terrero and Ramón Emilio Rojas Lora. November 18 and 22 They did not dare to carry out their death warrant because the sisters “were traveling with children.” But on the 25th they were only with the driver Rufino de la Cruz and another of the Mirabels: Patria.
After visiting their husbands in Puerto Plata they bowed Salcedo. Their houses. But when the jeep reached the Marapica bridge, four men crossed a brush: that’s what they called the Volkswagen beetle. The three sisters, at gunpoint, were forced to get into that car: that of their executioners. The two vehicles arrived at the patio of the house of Minerva and María Teresa, in La Cumbre, Salcedo. Peña Rivera distributed silk handkerchiefs among his three companions, “to hang them.” Their screams were not heard: the house was made of adobe and lined with mahogany wood.
Then, still dying, they finished them off with shovels. Their bodies – also that of the driver – loaded into one of the cars. And the car, thrown to the bottom of a ravine to simulate an accident and attribute the fatal blows to it.
It happened on November 25, 1960. 61 years ago. Minerva was 26 years old. Patria, 30. María Teresa, 36. Among the three, five children.
The ending did not surprise them: they always suspected that they were condemned to death.
Minerva went on to proclaim:
“If they kill me, I’ll take my arms out of the grave and I’ll be stronger!”
He was not wrong. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo was assassinated by the resistance just six months later. Final celebrated by the majority of the people. Despite living prostrate under the fierce tyranny of the atrocious and ridiculous character investigated and described by Mario Vargas Llosa in his novel, the murder of the Mirabal sisters, the “Butterflies” (code name they used for their messages in the resistance) , unleashed a cyclone of fury, hatred and joy at the corpse of the tyrant who had decided to extend his power ad infinitum: when he died he was 70 years old, but he foresaw that his son Ramfis would succeed him. It could not be: he died at the age of 40 in an accident on the road to Burgos, Spain.
But the martyrdom of the Mirabals was not forgotten. The date of her death was declared the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. A province, a street, a subway station, a monument, a ticket and even a new plant, the Salcedoa mirabaliarum, remember them. In addition to the Mirabal Museum, which preserves his clothes and his rooms as they were when he died.
Also five movies and half a dozen books. As for the hundreds of statues, busts and plaques with his name that Trujillo ordered, nothing remains. Trash of History.
The punishment of the murderers was a sham. The instigators and the perpetrators, sentenced in June 1962 to thirty years in prison … barely served two. They escaped en masse taking advantage of a military uprising: a high chief opened the door to the Ozama Fortress, where they were being held. And they dispersed forever.