Mariangel Ruiz Torrealba is a Venezuelan show hostees, actress and fashion model. She was first introduced as Miss Aragua in the Miss Venezuela 2002 competition, she won the contest, giving her the opportunity to go to the Miss Universe 2003 pageant, where she got the first runner up title.
Mariangel actually tried twice for the Miss Venezuela title, the first time in 1998 when she did not even place into the top 120 candidates. In 2002, she won the preliminary casting in Maracay, becoming Miss Aragua 2002. For the national pageant, she was not a favorite and was predicted to place as finalist as best. Big favorites for her year were Vanessa Fanesi (Yaracuy), Amara Barroeta (Distrito. Capital), Solsiret Herrera (Monagas), and Driva Cedeno (Nueva Esparta), as well as Aida Yespica (Amazonas) and Maria Fernanda Leon (Portuguesa), the only candidates to ever compete twice in Miss Venezuela history (not including Miss Republica Bolivariana Venezuela 2000). Against all prognostications, Mariangel won the pageant, which for the first time was judged entirely by former Miss Venezuelas. Her victory was completely unexpected by the contestants.
After being crowned Miss Venezuela, Mariangel had to confront several obstacles before being able to represent her homeland in the Miss Universe pargeant. First of all, was gaining Osmel Sousa's approval: he considered Ruiz to be "rebellious" and threatened to send Amara Barroeta, her first runner-up, to Miss Universe if she did not stop her weight gain and focus on her training. Soon after, a hugely publicized "crisis" emerged in which it was claimed that the Organizacion Miss Venezuela did not have enough hard currency, due to President Chavez's government foreign exchange controls, to pay the franchise fee and send its delegate. At the same time, Osmel Sousa agreed to train Amelia Vega, Miss Dominican Republic, for a week in Caracas while Mariangel was placed on "standby".
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