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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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Who is Virgilio Morales in In the Time of the Butterflies?

Quick answer:

Virgilio "Lío" Morales is an outspoken communist revolutionary who is in love with Minerva Mirabal and who eventually flees the Dominican Republic to escape political repression.

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Virgilio "Lío" Morales is introduced by Dedé's narration in chapter 5 of In The Time of the Butterflies. In this recollection,he meets Dedé and Minerva Mirabal at their father's shop. By Lío's appearance, the young women assume that he is a scholar. This assumption proves to be accurate, as Lío has just returned from Venezuela, where he earned his medical degree. Additionally, Lío is a communist intellectual who catalyzes the political development of the Mirabal sisters.

Unlike many in the resistance against Trujillo's dictatorship, Lío is publicly outspoken about his political perspectives, which results in him being targeted by Trujillo and his regime. While Lío is of romantic interest to both Dedé and Minerva, it is he and Minerva who form a romantic connection. Minerva is initially more politically driven than the other sisters and she is instantly attracted to Lío's bold politics.

Unfortunately, while Lío's passion is admirable, his tactic of publicly speaking out against the regime seems rather foolish, as this public-facing resistance only paints a target on his back. His romance with Minerva, as such, is short-lived, as he must flee to Colombia following an increase in government repression and Trujillo's personal interest in punishing him.

Lío certainly cares deeply for Minerva, as he attempts to invite her to flee with him to Colombia by giving Dedé a letter to deliver to Minerva. However, Dedé's personal romantic interest in Lío and her concern for her sister drives her to keep the letter from Minerva, and tragically, the two lovers never meet again.

Lío's story is ultimately full of the kind of tragedy that would befall a passionate, outspoken, and intelligent young person who lives under a brutal regime but aspires to see liberation for his people.

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