Study Guide

Villains in In the Time of the Butterflies

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Rafael Trujillo, a.k.a. "El Jefe," alias "The Goat" and "Chapita"

The President of the Dominican Republic is a larger-than-life character in the novel. While he (like the Mirabal sisters) is a real, historical figure, he also shows up several times in the novel. He is basically the worst monster you can imagine, dressed up in a general's outfit. When he was a kid he used to string "bottlecaps across his chest to look like medals" (2.6.96) and he can't seem to stop—he constantly wears pretty much all his medals at once. Wow. Insecure much?

The President is the force responsible for all of the problems in the novel; he wants all the pretty young girls for himself and mostly gets them. When Minerva refuses his advances he has her father thrown in jail. He is also the one who personally orders the butterflies' death: "My only two problems are the damn church and the Mirabal sisters" (3.12.253). Yeah, this guy is simply the worst.

Captain Peña

The head of the SIM in the north, Captain Peña has a lot of contact with the family because he is the one in charge of the girls' house arrest. He has to give them passes to visit their husbands in jail and to go to church, and so he has lots of control over their lives.

Peña has a big ego, so Patria uses that to her advantage. She asks him to show how powerful he is and help her son get a pardon. It works, and she must then invite him to the house for dinner, which Mamá is unhappy about but Peña loves because it gets him a better reputation in the region (and probably helps him to ignore his conscience).

Manuel de Moya

Manuel de Moya is the Secretary of State in title, but everybody knows that:

[…] his real job is rounding up pretty girls for El Jefe to try out. How they get talked into it, I don't know. Manuel de Moya is supposed to be so smooth with the ladies, they probably think they're following the example of the Virgencita if they bed down with the Benefactor of the Fatherland. (2.6.86)

And how does he do all of this smooth talking?

For one thing, he used to be a model. For another, he is an excellent dancer. He even has Minerva laughing when they dance at the party. Of course, he's got dirty tricks too, like drugging girls. And then there's the whole threat to your entire family if you don't go along with El Jefe… that can also be pretty convincing.

General Federico Fiallo

This guy questions Minerva when she's in trouble the first time for cavorting with Lío. He, along with a creepy, toadlike guy named Don Anselmo Paulino, gets her to admit she is friends with Virgilio, and that she lied about their friendship to keep from displeasing the Jefe.

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