Cover art for Romeo Santos’ Utopía, released April 5, 2019.

Back in the summer of 2014, about two months after graduating college, I stepped off a plane and into the sweltering humidity of Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. After paying my $10 entry fee and exiting the airport, I was ushered onto an otherwise empty school bus and driven 40 minutes away to the town of Salcedo in the Hermanas Mirabal province. …


Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabal on the 200 peso note. Photograph by author.

When Americans hear the words “Dominican Republic”, they tend to think of the white sand beaches of Punta Cana, major league baseball players like David Ortiz, and (if they are particularly in the know) bachateros like Romeo Santos and Prince Royce. Personally, I think of butterflies. Not real live butterflies, but instead the three metal and wood facsimiles, of progressively larger size, that adorn many of the houses of the Cibao Valley, a rural breadbasket that cuts across the country’s northern half between the Septentrional and Central mountain ranges.[i]

Andrew Ireland

International development professional based in Washington, DC. Boston College '14, Georgetown University SFS '18.

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