Becoming The Butterflies
The Political Participation of the Mirabal Sisters

THE 1950's

Their freedom was to be shortlived. Two years later, all three were detained again. Enrique was taken to the Ozama Fortress while the women were placed under house arrest in the Hotel Presidente. The reason given by the regime for the arrest was that Enrique had failed to buy a book about Trujillo. In actuality, El Jefe most likely wanted to put Minerva in her place. Her obvious contempt for the iron-fisted dictator angered him. The three prisoners were freed a few weeks later.

The Ozama Fortress was built in 1503. Photo © Asociación de Hoteles de Santo Domingo.
The constant fear and frequent arrests proved to be too much for the Mirabal sisters' aging father. Don Enrique became sick, and his health continued to deteriorate until his death on December 14, 1953. A year later, Minerva began attending the University of Santo Domingo. Despite her good grades, Trujillo ordered that she be barred from attending the university, in large part due to her thesis paper, "The Principle of the Irretroactiveness of Laws and Dominican Jurisprudence," in which she suported basic human rights and made suggestions for changes in the government. Despite this roadblock, Minerva returned to the university years later and graduated on October 28, 1957. The university was where she met Manuel Aurelio Tavarez Justo, the man she would marry.