The Sanctuary of Freedom

The Museum of the Mirabal Sisters, situated in the small centrally-located town of “Ojo de Agua,” is found in the childhood residence of Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, the three Dominican sisters who fought against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and were killed by the dictator’s henchmen.

The museum has become a symbol of the freedom of all Dominicans.

On November 25, the day of their heinous assassination, was declared as the International Day of Non-Violence Against Women by the United Nations.

After their assassination the sister’s maternal home became a shrine visited by thousands of Dominicans and international citizens.

It officially became a museum in 1994.

The museum’s director is Noris Gonzalez, daughter of Patria Mirabal and current President of the Mirabal Sisters Foundation.  She is proud of her heritage and is working to preserve the Museum as a legacy for future generations.

And Time Stands Still…

The maternal home was built in 1954 and became the sister’s shelter after the dictatorship began to persecute them. During a visit to the Museum, visitors will get a glimpse of what life was like for the sisters and the family during those difficult years.

The small library and personal paintings of Minerva Mirabal, the political leader among the sisters, the drawings of older sister Patria, and Maria Teresa’s collection of small China shoes, remain as they once did some 55 years ago.

The matriarch of the Mirabal Family, known to all as “Mama Chea,” and Dede, the only surviving sister who died in 2015, took great care in preserving the sister’s most precious belongings.  The sister’s personal earrings, Maria Teresa’s long braid (cut off before her burial), as well s Patria’s bloodied handkerchief are all carefully displayed.

The Original Home

The original structure remains the same, except for the change of the original floors.  The original roof and kitchen remain essentially the same, and the lush tropical gardens add a paradisiac touch to the large complex.

The home reflects the typical residence of the wealthy countryside families of the 20th century, featuring a living room, dining room, three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen and the maid’s quarters.

The Museum was originally organized by surviving sister Dede Mirabal and Violeta Martinez, a childhood friend of the sisters.

The remains of the three sisters, and those of Manolo Tavarez Justo, Minerva’s husband, were laid to rest in one special area of the beautiful grounds.

Tavarez Justo, a top democratic leader who led an important political movement during the late 1950s and early 1960s, was killed by military forces in 1963.

During November, the month when Dominicans and the international community commemorate the assassination of the Mirabal sisters, thousands of visitors and many schools from all over the country visit the Museum to pay their respects to the martyrs.

Today, the museum also includes a library, a cafeteria and an administration area.  It is the country’s most visited museum, with up to four thousand visitors a day.

This post is also available in: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese

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