For the first time in English, the stories of two Dominican national icons in their own words
“Minerva Mirabal and Manolo Tavárez are martyrs of the Dominican struggle against tyranny and oppression, but they were also two human beings deeply in love with each other. Through this superb and careful translation of their letters and the powerful evocations of their daughter, Heather Hennes brings to the English-speaking public this very necessary book. A must read!”—Ramón Antonio Victoriano-Martínez, author of Rayanos y Dominicanyorks: La dominicanidad del siglo XXI
“An original and significant addition to the history and literature of the Dominican Republic, as it translates a collection of historically significant letters exchanged between two major figures in the struggle to end the infamous, long-lasting, widely condemned Trujillo dictatorship.”—Elizabeth Horan, editor and translator of Gabriela Mistral’s Motivos: The Life of St. Francis
“Beautiful, sad, revelatory, and inspiring, this book offers English-language readers the opportunity to glimpse into a revolutionary relationship, the beginnings of the radical movement that ended the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, and leftist mobilization in Latin America. A timely and important contribution to Dominican historiography and the study of dictatorship, resistance, and revolution that also reminds us of the very real exigencies of memory and reconciliation.”—Elizabeth S. Manley, author of The Paradox of Paternalism: Women and the Politics of Authoritarianism in the Dominican Republic
The letters between Dominican revolutionaries Minerva Mirabal Reyes and Manolo Tavárez Justo tell an intimate story of life and love under the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, who held power in the nation from 1930 to 1961. Leaders in the 14th of June Movement, Minerva and Manolo were imprisoned multiple times. Minerva—one of three Mirabal sisters known by the code name “Las Mariposas” (The Butterflies)—was assassinated with her sisters in 1960; Manolo was killed in 1963. This translation and critical edition of their correspondence brings their stories to the English-language readers of the world.
Paired with commentary from the couple’s daughter, political activist Minou Tavárez Mirabal, these 117 letters and telegrams span from the first notes Minerva and Manolo exchanged while courting in law school to the last message Manolo sent to 7-year-old Minou before his murder. Translator Heather Hennes introduces the collection with a history of the Trujillo regime and its opposition, and the book includes a foreword by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Through this volume, readers will discover the human complexities of the iconic and much-mythologized “Butterfly,” Minerva, and will appreciate the importance of the couple’s legacy in the politics and democratic growth of the country today.
Minou Tavárez Mirabal is a political leader in the Dominican Republic and internationally renowned human rights activist. She is the daughter of Minerva Mirabal and Manolo Tavárez. Heather Hennes is associate professor of Spanish at Saint Joseph’s University.
Publication of this work made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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