“Sisters of the Underground:” The Mirabal Sisters and Their Fight For Freedom

Eva Longoria and Dania Ramirez produce a new podcast highlighting the bravery, determination and intelligence of the Mirabal sisters, who sparked the downfall of the notorious dictator, El Jefe, in the 1960’s.

Photo Courtesy / YouTube Laura Creatura

Actresses, producers and activists Eva Longoria and Dania Ramirez have put forth a new podcast with iHeartMedia’s “My Cultura Network” titled “Sisters of the Underground.” 

This scripted podcast tells the true story of the Mirabal sisters — Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa — three Dominican women whose fearless activism and state-orchestrated murders set into effect the downfall of one of the most brutal dictators of the twentieth century, Rafael Trujillo —commonly known as El Jefe.

Longoria and Ramirez, executive producers of this eight-part series, say they felt a strong calling to publicize the story, especially after stating the difficulties of having a female voice be heard, relating it to their times in the entertainment industry. 

“I think, as women today, it’s interesting to see that we’re still fighting that fight. There’s nothing shocking to me that women are at the center of rebellion because women are disproportionately affected by things like this,” Longoria told NBC. “Our democracy is being threatened and it’s going to be the activism, I believe, of women in this country to really get democracy back on track and to make sure that our rights aren’t being taken away, that we’re being heard.”

The vivid and immersive series illustrates how looks aren’t everything. Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa may not have seemed the most likely activists and revolutionaries, but living under the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo in the late 50’s and early 60’s led them to organize and grow an underground movement. This resistance group was called “The Movement of the Fourteenth of June.” 

Together, the three sisters challenged Trujillo’s regime, which violently repressed civil liberties as well as objections. In 1960, the three sisters were driving home from visiting their husbands who were still incarcerated. Their vehicle was stopped by Trujillo’s men who then murdered the sisters. The vehicle was thrown over a cliff in order to make the murders look like an accident, but anti-Trujillos as well as Trujillo supporters did not believe this to be the truth. It was well-known Trujillo ordered these murders to be carried out, but was unaware that this is what caused the snowball effect of his defeat. 

The late Mirabal sisters were considered national martyrs; not only did the Dominican Republic currency and stamps bare their faces, but “school children grow up learning about their sacrifice. and their code name ‘Las Mariposas’ (the butterflies) is a well known symbol around the country.” In addition, the U.N. made the date of their death, Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day not only celebrates the sisters, their courage and sacrifice, but it also marks the commencement of the 16-day worldwide activism period against gender violence, which ends on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day. 

The first episode was released on Aug. 31, and was immediately heartbreaking. It highlighted the love letters written between Minerva Mirabal and her husband Manolo Tavarez. This extremely emotional episode portrayed true love in a time of resistance and oppression, showing the fear, passion and drive the sisters must have felt during the time of Trujillo. The podcast is not simply a retelling of the history of the Mirabal sisters, but it is a scripted reenactment of their courage and commitment to the resistance. This unique angle of storytelling is what makes the podcast so compelling; it is raw and it is painful, but it is a beautiful story. It allows listeners to not only hear, but truly feel, what the Mirabal sisters felt during their fight for freedom.

Through the retelling of the Mirabal sisters’ story, Ramirez hopes that they “not only inspire women today, but also inspire the new generation of women” to demonstrate that they can do anything that they set their minds to. “I’m so excited for listeners to hear the incredible story of the Mirabal sisters in this captivating and immersive format.” Longoria adds, “They are true heroes, and their story is an important example of the strong need for all of our community’s stories to be heard, seen and celebrated.”“We fight for everything, every day,” Longoria told NBC. “Women have to be twice as good, twice as efficient, twice as fast, twice as prepared and so it’s still the reality of it.”

The first episode of “Sisters of the Underground” aired on iHeartRadio and all major podcast platforms Wednesday, Aug. 31.