"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 audiences.

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 governments.

Butterflies Production Stills

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