"Code Name: Butterflies" is an exciting suspense-filled story, pitting good
against evil, with vivid characters and dramatic scenes. With a moving
script, powerful performances in its recreations, beautifully shot in High
Definition television, and original musical score, the program will more
than meet the expectations of a PBS audience accustomed to quality
productions. It is vivid history, with interviews with witnesses to a
struggle which stood at the crossroads of the future of the Dominican
Republic, now a democracy, but once harboring one of the most destructive
and ruthless dictators in modern times.
But it is not just interesting history and good drama. The story which
unfolded decades ago has a special relevance and resonance in the U.S.
today. It is a universal story celebrating core American values. At a time
when Americans at home and abroad are dying in the cause of freedom, and
when we are all forcibly reminded every day that freedom comes at a price,
and that civilians, the underlying issues will resonate with American
The Mirabal sisters could have lived a comfortable life if they kept quiet
and played the dictator Trujillo's game. Or they could have left the
Dominican Republic and its problems and gone to live in somewhere else.
Instead, they chose to stay and face the most fundamental questions for
themselves, for their families, and for their country.
For forty years, Leonid Trujillo was a savage, bestial dictator, governing
the Dominican Republic with fear, extortion, torture, and murder. Under the
guise of maintaining order, he systematically destroyed all humanity and
decency in the government. Behind the mask of patriot and leader was a man
drunk on power and harboring a rotten soul, corrupting the nation's justice
system, terrorizing people with secret police, undermining the press,
murdering political opponents, preying on young girls, demanding bribes from
businessmen, poisoning the patriotism of the military, stealing millions
from the national treasury. His allies in the creation of this diseased
state were human weaknesses in all their forms, including fear, silence,
cowardice, and greed.
In such a country, as in Hitler's Germany, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Saddam's
Iraq, people who have not made the coward's agreement with themselves "not
to know" are forced to face the big questions. Can we accept a life where
every day is degrading and shameful, when we wake up in the morning and go
to bed at night living in fear? If we are passive before such evil, who are
we not just in the eyes of our parents, our brothers and sisters, our
friends and neighbors, but in our own eyes? What are we teaching our
children? In a nation of spies, it is dangerous to speak, but what are we
if we sell our childrens' future to a ruthless animal?
For most Dominicans, the risks were too great, the power of the government
too strong. They acted like victims in a storm -- lying low, hoping that
lightning won't strike, waiting for things to change. But not Patria,
Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal. Where others were content to keep quiet,
they were taught by their parents and teachers to speak out. Where others
were paralyzed by fear, they found the courage to act. In these pretty
girls, worried about their hair and dresses, their studies in school, their
boyfriends, husbands and children, Trujillo found the most unlikely enemies.
For a long time, he thought he could intimidate them, threaten their
parents, imprison their loved ones. When he finally understood how
dangerous and resourceful they were, he was able to end their lives on a
lonely mountain road, but end what they had begun the movement toward
restoring human dignity and freedom to the Dominican Republic.
"Code Name: Butterflies" is of particular importance to young viewers,
offering role models very different from athletic heroes, rock stars, and
celebrities. The Mirabal sisters are a continuing inspiration -- to
Dominicans who see in them a source of national pride, and to the world
which is struggling to support human rights and rid itself of oppressive
Butterflies Production Stills