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La Liga de Las Americas

Las Mariposas reflect human rights, opportunities, and struggles


By Arooj Ashraf, Cleveland Correspondent of La Prensa


It takes one man’s courage to define history. It took the brutal murder of three defenseless hermanas to topple a horrific regime and change the course of life in the Dominican Republic.


March 8, 2007 marked the 98th observance of International Women’s Day, devoted to gender equality, human rights, and women’s struggles.

Samira Schofield presents Professor Antonio Medina Rivera with a logo screen to thank him for his participation in the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center celebration


In honor of International Women’s Day, the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center presented a lecture and a movie—In the Time of the Butterflies, starring Selma Hayek and Marc Anthony, is adapted from Julia Alvarez’s book that fictionalizes the lives of three national heroines.


Code named Las Mariposas, or The Butterflies, three sisters—Minerva, María Teresa, and Patria Mirabal—proved monumental in the underground movement to overthrow Rafael Leónidas Trujillo (dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961). Their assassination on November 25, 1960 started the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women that is widely celebrated in Latin America on the same date.


For some, the movie is a moving master piece that sparks eerie parallels to the current affairs of the world. “It’s just a different time and place, but the issues are the same,” said Monica Galang who attended the event Friday, March 9, 2007.


This struggle is painstakingly presented with each female character—the mother, the sister, the revolutionary. The delicate balance between femininity and courage are beautifully maintained. The women actively contribute to the movement against a tyrant while maintaining their roles as nurturing and loving mothers.  “Anyone with a conscience should watch this movie,” says Galang. She felt empowered by the story and heartbroken at the same time.


Dr. Daisy Díaz, a board member of the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center, said the movie was chosen because it shows the courage of a woman, Minerva Mirabal, who broke the  barriers of education and was the first Latina to receive a law degree, standing up for justice, human rights, and gender equality.


“It’s easy for men to be heroes,” said guest lecturer Dr. Antonio Medina-Rivera, Associate Professor of Spanish at Cleveland State University. “For women to become heroines, they are criticized when leaving home and have to struggle between their ‘love for the country’ and ‘love for their children.”


In the Time of the Butterflies is an eternal masterpiece that carries numerous important messages and deserves to be seen and discussed throughout the ages. Its story will ring true throughout the ages and throughout the world.


Nearly fifty people attended the event. Professor Medina-Rivera began by highlighting the life of revolutionary poet Julia de Burgos and reciting her poetry. He called her poems erotic and embedded with metaphors that represent the struggle of the country’s fight to freedom and the women’s struggle to equal opportunities.


Medina-Rivera said women are still struggling today for their rights, physical integrity, freedom of speech, and equal job opportunity. “Even if we look at the U.S. women get less money than men, the corporate are controlled by men,” he said.  Medina-Rivera says it important for Latinos to understand and reconnect with their history because the issues are more paramount than ever before.


“The Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center strives to present educational programs to educate people about Latino history, especially now,” says Samira Schofield, the vice-president of the Center’s Board of Trustees, who presented Professor Medina-Rivera with a logo screen to thank him for his participation in the program.


Editor’s Note: For more information on the Center, visit: www.juliadeburgos.org or call (216) 961-2970. The Center will be hosting “Fiesta Latina” on March 24-25, 2007, at the I-X Indoor Amusement Park, 6200 Riverside Drive, Cleveland, with entertainment headlined by sonero Frankie Negrón.  






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