In the Time of the Butterflies

Rafael Trujillo Character Analysis

The dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930-61, and the antagonist of the novel. Trujillo seized power as the head of the army and then rules behind puppet presidents. He sets up a “personality cult” around himself, elevating himself almost to godhood and plastering his face and name everywhere. His rule provides economic stability, but is also a time of murder, fear, and the dissolution of civil liberties. In the novel he appears during three confrontations with Minerva. He is assassinated by his former cronies a year after, and to some extent because of, the butterflies’ deaths.

Rafael Trujillo Quotes in In the Time of the Butterflies

The In the Time of the Butterflies quotes below are all either spoken by Rafael Trujillo or refer to Rafael Trujillo. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dictatorship Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Algonquin Books edition of In the Time of the Butterflies published in 2010.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“It’s about time we women had a voice in running our country.”
“You and Trujillo,” Papá says a little loudly, and in this clear peaceful night they all fall silent. Suddenly, the dark fills with spies who are paid to hear things and report them down at Security. Don Enrique claims Trujillo needs help in running this country. Don Enrique’s daughter says it’s about time women took over the government. Words repeated, distorted, words recreated by those who might bear them a grudge, words stitched to words until they are the winding sheet the family will be buried in when their bodies are found dumped in a ditch, their tongues cut off for speaking too much.

Related Characters: Dedé (speaker), Papá (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

When we got to school that fall, we were issued new history textbooks with a picture of you-know-who embossed on the cover so even a blind person could tell who the lies were about. Our history now followed the plot of the Bible. We Dominicans had been waiting for centuries for the arrival of our Lord Trujillo on the scene. It was pretty disgusting.
“All through nature there is a feeling ecstasy. A strange otherworldly light suffuses the house smelling of labor and sanctity. The 24th of October in 1891. God’s glory made flesh in a miracle. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo has been born!”

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

I see a guardia, and I think, who have you killed. I hear a police siren, and I think who is going to be killed. See what I mean?
I see the picture of our president with eyes that follow me around the room, and I am thinking he is trying to catch me doing something wrong. Before, I always thought our president was like God, watching over everything I did.

Related Characters: Mate (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Minerva could tell. One day, we were lying side by side on the hammock strung just outside the galería. She must have caught me gazing at our picture of the Good Shepherd, talking to his lambs. Beside him hung the required portrait of El Jefe, touched up to make him look better than he was. “They’re a pair, aren’t they?” she noted.
That moment, I understood her hatred. My family had not been personally hurt by Trujillo, just as before losing my baby, Jesus had not taken anything away from me. But others had been suffering great losses…
I had heard, but I had not believed. Snug in my heart, fondling my pearl, I had ignored their cries of desolation. How could our loving, all-powerful Father allow us to suffer so? I looked up, challenging Him. And the two faces had merged!

Related Characters: Patria (speaker), Minerva, Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

The floor remains empty as it must until El Jefe has danced the first dance.

He rises from his chair, and I am so sure he is going to ask me that I feel a twinge of disappointment when he turns instead to the wife of the Spanish ambassador. Lío’s words of warning wash over me. This regime is seductive. How else would a whole nation fall prey to this little man?

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker), Rafael Trujillo, Virgilio Morales (Lío)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Maybe because I was used to the Good Shepherd and Trujillo side by side in the old house, I caught myself praying a little greeting as I walked by.
Then another time, I came in from outside with my hands full of anthuriums. I looked up at him, and I thought why not. I set up a vase on the table right under his picture…
I don’t know if that’s how it started, but pretty soon, I was praying to him, not because he was worthy or anything like that. I wanted something from him, and prayer was the only way I knew to ask.

Related Characters: Patria (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

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El Jefe entered in a wash of camera flashes. I don’t know what I thought I’d see – I guess after three months of addressing him, I was sure I’d feel a certain kinship with the stocky, overdressed man before me. But it was just the opposite. The more I tried to concentrate on the good side of him, the more I saw a vain, greedy, unredeemed creature. Maybe the evil one had become flesh like Jesus! Goosebumps jumped all up and down my bare arms.

Related Characters: Patria (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rafael Trujillo Character Timeline in In the Time of the Butterflies

The timeline below shows where the character Rafael Trujillo appears in In the Time of the Butterflies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Dedé, 1994 and circa 1943
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...She says women should have a voice in politics, and then Papá says “you and Trujillo.” Suddenly they all go silent, and feel that the dark woods are full of spies... (full context)
Chapter 2: Minerva, 1938, 1941, 1944
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...Patria, so she explains it to Sinita. Sinita offers to trade her the “secret of Trujillo” in exchange. (full context)
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...mourning when she first came to school. Minerva asks her to tell the “secret of Trujillo.” Sinita is afraid, but she finally agrees. (full context)
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...her family used to be rich and important. Three of her uncles were friends with Trujillo, but then they turned against him when “they saw he was doing bad things.” Minerva... (full context)
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Minerva asks what “bad things” Trujillo was doing, and Sinita explains his rise to power. She uses childlike terms, but explains... (full context)
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Minerva asks why someone didn’t tell Trujillo that this wasn’t right, but Sinita says that people who criticized him “didn’t live very... (full context)
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...the family, so she later allowed Sinita to attend for free. Sinita finally says that “Trujillo’s secret” is that he is having everyone killed. (full context)
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(¡Pobrecita!: 1941) Minerva describes how she is directly affected by Trujillo three years later. At school she and her friends befriend and admire an older girl... (full context)
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Every time Trujillo comes to town after that he stops by and visits Lina. He starts sending gifts... (full context)
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As the girls hear more about Trujillo they all start falling in love with him through Lina – except for Sinita. Minerva... (full context)
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...summer Minerva is driving by a mansion with Papá, and he says that “one of Trujillo’s girlfriends” lives there – Lina. Minerva asks how Trujillo can have girlfriends if he’s married,... (full context)
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...next year at school Minerva hears the rest of the story. Lina got pregnant, and Trujillo’s wife attacked her. Trujillo then shipped Lina off to a mansion. She waits for him... (full context)
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...later it is the country’s centennial year, and they are supposed to have celebrations honoring Trujillo. The Mirabals get around this by celebrating Patria’s twentieth birthday instead, but making everyone wear... (full context)
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...on a big loyalty performance” at this point. At school they get new textbooks with Trujillo’s picture on the front. The country’s history books now echo the plot of the Bible,... (full context)
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At school they have a new gymnasium from Trujillo’s donation, which is called the “Lina Lovatón Gymnasium.” The school has a contest there to... (full context)
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...the contest Minerva’s team wins, and they are later sent to perform their skit for Trujillo on his birthday. Minerva tries to decline, but Sinita wants to do it. Sinita says... (full context)
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...escorts the girls to the capital and warns them to act like “jewels” and impress Trujillo. They arrive and Minerva sees Trujillo for the first time. He looks small in his... (full context)
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...Minerva, the Fatherland. Sinita draws her bow and then points an imaginary arrow straight at Trujillo. Ramfis leaps up, grabs Sinita’s bow, and breaks it over his knee. (full context)
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...teeth, and calls her “bitch.” When Minerva is free, she starts a chant of “Viva Trujillo!” to defuse the situation. On the way home Sor Asunción is disappointed in the girls. (full context)
Chapter 3: This little book belongs to María Teresa, 1945 to 1946
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...shoes she wears for Benefactor’s Day, and how happy she is to have El Jefe (Trujillo) as her president. She feels special because her birthday is in the same month as... (full context)
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The next day María Teresa is more suspicious of the police and Trujillo. She had thought of Trujillo as “like God, watching over everything I did,” but now... (full context)
Chapter 4: Patria, 1946
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...Noris. She starts to worry about Minerva, who has been speaking out more openly against Trujillo. Patria tries to reason with her, saying that Trujillo is better than the other “bandits”... (full context)
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...she has lost her faith. One day she notes Patria staring at the portrait of Trujillo next to the picture of Jesus and says “they’re a pair, aren’t they?” Patria then... (full context)
Chapter 5: Dedé, 1994 and 1948
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...Lío, and how she imagined his eyes accusing her whenever she went along with the Trujillo regime’s insanity. (full context)
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There is then a brief quarrel between Jaimito and Lío, in which Lío criticizes Trujillo and Jaimito accuses Lío of abandoning his comrades whenever he flees the country. There is... (full context)
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...political party at the time, which they attended as a pacifying show of support for Trujillo. After the meeting Jaimito asks Minerva if Lío has asked her to go into hiding... (full context)
Chapter 6: Minerva, 1949
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Later Papá gets invited to a party thrown by Trujillo himself, and there is a special request that Minerva appear as well. Mamá is frightened... (full context)
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(Discovery Day Dance: October 12) On the day of Trujillo’s party the family is an hour late, as they get lost and Jaimito (who is... (full context)
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The family reaches the mansion’s entrance and are greeted by Manuel de Moya, Trujillo’s “secretary of state” whose real job is finding pretty girls for El Jefe. Luckily Trujillo... (full context)
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Trujillo immediately receives a new medal from the Spanish ambassador. Minerva thinks of the rumor that... (full context)
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After dinner there is dancing, and Minerva can’t help feeling disappointed that Trujillo doesn’t invite her for his first dance. She reminds herself of Lío’s warning, that “this... (full context)
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Don Manuel is a good dancer, and Minerva suddenly finds herself led over to Trujillo. He takes her hand and Minerva gets very nervous. They start to dance and Trujillo... (full context)
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Trujillo gets cross and says that women don’t belong at the university these days, as it... (full context)
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Trujillo returns to his flirtatious mood, and he starts pulling Minerva towards him aggressively. He thrusts... (full context)
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...An official shows up at the Mirabal house and says that leaving a gathering before Trujillo is against the law. Papá immediately goes off to send a telegram of apology. When... (full context)
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...a one-eyed, toadlike man named Don Anselmo Paulino, who is nicknamed “Magic Eye.” He is Trujillo’s right-hand man in “security” work. (full context)
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...purse. Minerva admits that she knows Lío, and Magic Eye accuses her of lying to Trujillo. Minerva apologizes and swears that she is not currently communicating with Lío. Magic Eye seems... (full context)
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...the governor’s offer, that Minerva could “end all this nonsense” with a “private conference with El Jefe .” Minerva says she would rather jump out the window. Manuel de Moya looks exasperated,... (full context)
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...they aren’t allowed to leave their hotel. Three weeks later they have an appointment with Trujillo. Just before, Papá is released from prison and the prison hospital – he had a... (full context)
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The family then enters their meeting with Trujillo. On his desk is a set of scales, with dice in each tray. Manuel reads... (full context)
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Trujillo requests that Minerva “check in” every week with the governor, and Minerva responds by reminding... (full context)
Chapter 7: María Teresa, 1953 to 1958
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...cousins Berto and Raúl. Mate then writes out a letter she and Mamá wrote informing Trujillo of Papá’s death and thanking him for his “beneficent protection.” Mate reveals that Minerva is... (full context)
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...curse them, and in the right shoe for “problems with someone you love.” She puts Trujillo’s name in her left shoe and Papá’s in her right. Mate writes down some love... (full context)
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...that the family has lost a lot of money since Papá got in trouble with Trujillo, and says that Dedé and Jaimito have tried and failed at running two businesses. (full context)
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...excited about the big city. She says all the streets are named after members of Trujillo’s family. She describes a section of the newspaper where people getting in trouble are mentioned,... (full context)
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...Minerva and a friend of theirs, Armando. She is frightened because Manolo jokes aloud about Trujillo killing people, but soon she becomes infatuated with Armando and kisses him. That night she... (full context)
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...ceremony at the capital. Minerva participates even though she is now pregnant. Mate describes Angelita, Trujillo’s daughter, who presides over the ceremonies dressed in fur and jewels. Mate pities Angelita and... (full context)
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...professor at the university had been killed in New York for writing a book against Trujillo. Mate thinks the “Miss University” contest is stupid, but Minerva says that silly votes like... (full context)
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...shocked when Minerva is then denied the license to practice. They realize that this is Trujillo’s revenge against Minerva, allowing her to study for years and then giving her a useless... (full context)
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...leaders of. Minerva’s code name is Mariposa (Butterfly). They have code names for everything – Trujillo is “the goat,” and the “picnic” is his overthrow. The young man from the night... (full context)
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...marriage to Leandro. Part of the date announcement includes “twenty-eighth year of the Era of Trujillo.” Mate ends with “Mariposa and Palomino, for now! María Teresa and Leandro, forever!” (full context)
Chapter 8: Patria, 1959
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...young men these days. The church still refuses to “get involved in temporal matters,” so Trujillo leaves it alone. The terror of his regime is now the SIM (Military Intelligence Service),... (full context)
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The rumors of the invasion make Trujillo declare a state of emergency, so Patria and her group have to delay their retreat.... (full context)
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...the first wave of the rumored invasion. A week later there are more invaders, but Trujillo’s planes bomb their ships and hunt them down after they land. Campesinos help the guards... (full context)
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...they strike.” They are all tired of waiting for the pope and archbishop to condemn Trujillo, and they decide to take action on their own. (full context)
Chapter 9: Dedé, 1994 and 1960
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...they don’t know his politics. Dedé defends Jaimito, saying he is no more a “trujillista” (Trujillo defender) than Papá was. Minerva responds that Papá was a trujillista in his own way,... (full context)
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...Dedé remembers frantically worrying about Minerva and arguing with her, repeating all the rumors that Trujillo wanted her dead, as she was “the secret heroine of the whole nation.” In those... (full context)
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Minerva had refused to hole up though, as she thought that Trujillo would never “murder a defenseless woman and dig his own grave.” Whenever Dedé would start... (full context)
Chapter 10: Patria, January to March 1960
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Patria is still used to having the picture of Jesus next to the portrait of Trujillo, so sometimes she accidentally says a prayer to El Jefe as she passes. Soon she... (full context)
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...she notes that she doesn’t offer herself as a sacrifice to him – only to Trujillo. She knows what El Jefe wants from women, but she is afraid of what God... (full context)
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...offered his freedom if he would divorce his Mirabal wife and pledge his support to Trujillo. Pedrito refused. Peña laughs at Patria’s distress and then leaves. Minou buries the candy he... (full context)
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...goes to church and the new priest (Padre de Jesús has been arrested) condemns the Trujillo regime from the pulpit, saying that it is a sin against God to take away... (full context)
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...all over the country, as the Catholic leaders have finally decided to speak out against Trujillo. Someone tries to assassinate the archbishop, and at Patria’s church some SIM-paid prostitutes come in... (full context)
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...– he is a Spaniard named Don Bernardo, who was brought over as part of Trujillo’s campaign to “whiten the race.” He is the only neighbor who doesn’t actively avoid the... (full context)
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Weeks pass, and the regime starts a war against the church as condemnations of Trujillo keep issuing from the pulpit. Patria keeps praying to the portrait of Trujillo, warning him... (full context)
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...to defend him as not so bad. She is worried about what will happen after Trujillo is dead – how the Dominicans will be able to forgive each other for what... (full context)
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Jaimito agrees to sponsor Nelson, and the family’s uncle who is friends with Trujillo comes along too. At the last minute Noris demands to come too. They get lost... (full context)
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They come to a parlor full of journalists, and Trujillo enters. Patria expects to feel more sympathetic towards him after months of praying to his... (full context)
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...the next day the front page is a picture of Noris giving her hand to Trujillo, with the headline “Young Offender Softens El Jefe’s Heart.” (full context)
Chapter 11: María Teresa, March to August 1960
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...has a young daughter. One night Mate breaks down at the usual call of “Viva Trujillo!” and Minerva helps her calm down. The prisoners have breakdowns all the time, but Mate... (full context)
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...questioning twice, but Minerva and Sina (Minerva’s old friend) have been taken many times. Ramfis Trujillo came to question Minerva personally, as she is the rumored “brain behind the whole movement.” (full context)
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The OAS (Organization of American States) is rumored to be visiting to investigate Trujillo’s suspected human rights violations. The guards are all worried about this, while the politicals are... (full context)
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...she smuggles in a newspaper clipping that says that President Betancourt of Venezuela has accused Trujillo of trying to assassinate him. Because of this the OAS is definitely coming to investigate... (full context)
Chapter 12: Minerva, August to November 25, 1960
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...to Peña and start calling him “Uncle.” One day Peña gathers everyone and says that Trujillo is planning a visit to the province, so it would be nice if the sisters... (full context)
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...and spies outside the house for being too loud. As she leaves they say “Viva Trujillo!” and after a long pause Minerva makes herself say it too. (full context)
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...Palace. He had once been put in prison for printing a picture showing some of Trujillo’s bare leg, and once for accidentally calling a “eulogy” for Trujillo an “elegy.” Elsa and... (full context)
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One day Elsa brings news that the OAS has imposed sanctions on Trujillo’s regime. Many American countries, including the U.S., have broken off relations with the Dominican Republic.... (full context)
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Minerva believes that Trujillo will fall soon, as almost everyone has turned against him now, but Trujillo instead seems... (full context)
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...were afraid the revolutionaries were Communists. The Americans distrust any idealists, and would prefer a Trujillo to a Castro. They are now working with some of Trujillo’s “old cronies” who want... (full context)
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...revolution and the country. Minerva feels that she is so desperate to get rid of Trujillo at this point that she doesn’t care how it happens. Manolo’s mother offers to buy... (full context)
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...His resulting terror is like a window into the “rotten weakness at the heart of Trujillo’s system.” (full context)
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...That same night their uncle arrives and says he has been to a reception honoring Trujillo, as El Jefe finally visited the province. At the reception Trujillo had told his admirers... (full context)
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...he reassures them that he is fine. The young soldier affirms this with “God and Trujillo willing.” This is the first time all three sisters have ridden together, as Pedrito is... (full context)
Epilogue: Dedé, 1994
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A year after Trujillo’s death there were trials for the murderers of the Mirabal sisters. The defendants said that... (full context)
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...thirty years in prison, but they were all released during the “spell of revolutions” following Trujillo’s overthrow. Dedé had raised the sisters’ children without ever mentioning the names of the murderers,... (full context)
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After her sisters’ deaths, Dedé had avoided the news even when it was good. Trujillo was assassinated by seven of his former “buddies” a year after the Mirabals’ deaths. Manolo,... (full context)
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After Trujillo’s fall, The government built a monument to the Mirabals, and one day the new president... (full context)
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...the current state of the Dominican Republic. It is certainly better than it was under Trujillo, but it still seems a disappointing result for the butterflies’ sacrifice. (full context)