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The Mirabel sisters chose the butterfly, "la mariposa" as their symbol, because they saw it as a symbol of freedom and independence, which was the goal of their struggle: independence for their country, the Dominican Republic, from the horrific dictator Trujillo. Trujillo was an evil, murderous lech, a known rapist, and murderer of 30,000 Haitians, among other things. Three of the four "Las Mariposas" were ambushed and killed by Trujillo's henchmen at the end of Alvarez's novel. The recollections of the fourth sister, Dede, who survived, provide the first person account of her and her sisters' struggles, upon which the book is based.
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