The Miss Venezuela contest is the national beauty pageant of Venezuela and has been held since 1952 . It is responsible for selecting the country's representatives to the Miss Universe, Miss World, and Miss International pageants (amongst others).
Under the direction of Osmel Sousa, Venezuela has accumulated more international titles than any other country, including six Miss Universe winners, five Miss World winners, and five Miss International winners. Alexandra Braun Waldeck, who won Venezuela's first Miss Earth title in 2005 was first runner-up at the Miss Venezuela pageant, and received training from the organization, although she was not one of their official titleholders.
The pageant is traditionally held in September, preceded by two or three months of preliminary events, including the awarding of corporate prizes. The final competition telecast generally lasts about four hours and is broadcast live across Latin America by Venevision, with edited versions to the United States and Mexico on the Univision network. In 2006, a Venezuelan-American filmmaker Patrick Atanasije Pineda obtained the rights to document every detail of the pageant, including its process and contestants.
Thousands of entrants apply for the pageant each year. Some young women would try for up to five or six years consecutively trying to get one of the 26 to 32 titles that will enable them to compete in the final pageant. Venezuela's 23 states, capital, and two regions of Zulia state are always represented; some years other regions of the country will have representatives in the pageant. Although some major states and regions such as Zulia, Tachira, and Carabobo will hold their own preliminaries, many of the states are assigned by geographical proximity or even random drawing to the final contestants. There is therefore considerably less emphasis on state titles than there is in other national pageants such as Miss USA, although certain areas such as Miranda, Nueva Esparta, Distrito Capital and Carabobo always seem to achieve high results.
A girl wishing to compete in the pageant starts at either the local level, if a regional contest is held in her state, or goes directly to the pageant's headquarters in Caracas. Regional contests generally select three to six candidates who will likely represent the state or one nearby: i.e. a candidate who is a finalist for Miss Carabobo will usually expect to represent Carabobo or a neighboring state such as Yaracuy in the final pageant. Osmel Sousa, president of the pageant, always sits on the selection panel regardless of whether it is a final regional contest or the direct "auditions", and it is not uncommon for him to overturn the entire regional results in favor of his own choices. For example, none of the candidates in 2004 for Vargas state were deemed fit for competition, so a candidate from Caracas was appointed Miss Vargas. Winners therefore have often never visited the state they represent. In this fashion, rather than waste five or six candidates from a strong area of the country such as Zulia in a system wherein only one can represent the state, the pageant distributes "spare states" to them so all have an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities in the final night. Traditionally, strong candidates have been pulled from Caracas, Zulia and Carabobo states, although they can come from all over the country; e.g. in 2003 the Miss Centroccidental pageant sent seven candidates to the pageant, while in 2005 only one proceeded to the finals. In 2000, the casting made in Zulia state (called Miss Venezuela Zulia at that time) sent 7 girls to that year finals.
The pageant reserves the right to remove any candidate that is deemed not to be performing up to standard, so there is no guarantee that a contestant may participate on the final night of competition. However, such decisions are usually made before the delegates are convened and the various state sashes are handed out. The pageant keeps a "reserve" pool of willing candidates always available to replace any last minute rejected contestant. Many aspirants will also make it into the final 50 or 60, only to be eliminated from the final roster of 2632 contestants. Such eliminations have no real bearing on how well the contestant will do in the future. Mariangel Ruiz, Miss Venezuela 2002, did not place into the final 120 in 1998; Barbara Clara, second runner-up in 2004, had previously tried for the pageant three times before winning a title at the last minute in 2004.
Reentry into the final pageant is rare, although the rules are arbitrary and not as restrictive as those in other countries. Only one contestant has ever participated in the official Miss Venezuela pageant twice: Maria Fernanda Leon, who represented Guarico in 1999 and Portuguesa in 2002. Aida Yespica competed in Miss Venezuela World 2001 but withdrew before being assigned a state for the final pageant her year; she returned in Miss Venezuela 2002 for Amazonas state. The majority of the contestants in 2000 and 2001 competed in both the Miss Venezuela World and Miss Venezuela contests of their respective years; they were assigned numbers for the Miss World preliminary, with the most desirable contestants being allowed to proceed to the final Miss Venezuela pageant with state titles. The ten contestants for Miss Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Miss Venezuela for Miss Universe 2000) and the six for Miss Venezuela Mundo 2006 (Miss Venezuela for Miss World 2006) were "recycled" from previous years. This situation was expected to be repeated during the 2007 pageant, in which some contestants were expected to compete again, though it didn't happen.
There is an unofficial formula to determine the states and regions represented in Venezuela. The base number of contestants over the last decade has been 2628, which can be increased or decreased by Venevision's management.
Official states (23)
* Denotes that state has a preliminary pageant which may or may not still be held as of 2005 only Tachira, Zulia, Lara, Aragua and Sucre held preliminaries.
** Denotes that state has been represented through the Miss Centroccidental preliminary. Additionally, three states, Carabobo, Falcon and Merida hold their own individual pageants.
Official regions (3)
Costa Oriental del Lago (East lake coast (Maracaibo Lake))
Distrito Capital (Capital District)
Dependencias Federales ("Federal Dependencies" Venezuelan islands)
Peninsula Goajira (Venezuelan part of the Goajira peninsula)
Costa Oriental and Peninsula Goajira are regions of Zulia state and are titles handed out at the Miss Zulia preliminary. As of 2003 Costa Oriental has its own preliminary.
Together, these 26 regions form the "base" of the Miss Venezuela contest. However, at times other regions and territories have been represented. If there are 27 sashes, the 27th candidate is Miss Dependencias Federales . If there are 28 sashes, either Canaima (a national park in Bolivar state) or Peninsula de Paraguana (a region of Falcon state) is represented. In 2003, additional titles of Peninsula de Araya (a region of Sucre state) and Roraima (a national park in Bolivar state) were created to bring the pageant to its highest ever number of contestants: 32. Surprisingly, in 2008 Peninsula de Araya was used again, and there was no Miss Peninsula Goajira or Miss Costa Oriental that year. In the mid-1990s, the districts of Municipio Libertador and Municipio San Francisco were also represented, the last one only in 1997 and 1998. Also, only in 2003, Guayana Esequiba (Part of Guyana that historically Venezuela claims of its own) was represented. Vargas state, the most recent modification in Venezuela's map (1999) was always present in the pageant, but with other names: Departamento Vargas (until 1986) Municipio Vargas (1987 to 1997) Territorio Federal Vargas(1998) and Vargas State since 1999. In 2009, only 20 delegates competed for the crown, the same number that competed the final night in 2003, so some "traditional" states didn't have a representative.
*Resigned after 36 hours; Miss Nueva Esparta declared new winner
**Won as Miss Federal District
***Won as Miss Caracas
****Resigned; Miss Department of Vargas declared new winner
*****All titles won as Miss Department of Vargas
Venezuela's international titleholders represented the following states during their Miss Venezuela competition (indicates year of international victory): Miss Universe: Vargas Department (1979), Miranda (1981), Trujillo , Yaracuy (1996)and Amazonas (2008); Miss World: Miranda , Aragua (1981), Zulia (1991) and Nueva Esparta (1995); and Miss International: Monagas (1985), Miranda (1997), Costa Oriental (2000), Carabobo (2003) and Barinas (2006). Miss Earth 2005, Alexandra Braun Waldeck competed in Miss Venezuela 2005 as Miss Nueva Esparta but was sent to the Miss Earth pageant by Sambil Organization (the owners of Miss Earth Venezuela franchise) not by the Miss Venezuela organization.
Once a candidate is shortlisted for the pageant, she begins an intensive training program which can last for six months. She receives coaching in speech, physical fitness, make-up, modelling, and all the other skills required for the competition. Plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry is optional and some delegates use padding. As the Miss Venezuela broadcast lasts up to four hours long, with countless musical numbers and dances, rehearsals require weeks of preparation. Contestants also participate in official photoshoots and also fittings by fashion designers. The evening gowns worn by candidates are a major source of politicking by Venezuela's domestic fashion houses, with top designers such as Mayela Camacho, Angel Sanchez, Durant & Diego, and Jose Maria Almeida selecting candidates that they will dress for the final night, while other, newer designers compete to present designs for the pageant. As a general rule the evening gowns are always custom-designed for each of the candidates on the final night, and always by a Venezuelan designer. By tradition, Nidal Nouaihed dresses the representatives of his home state of Zulia ; Angel Sanchez designs the gown for Miss Trujillo; Jose Maria Almeida designs the dress for Miss Merida and the national costume for Miss Venezuela to Miss Universe. Only in 1999, 26 different designers took part of the evening gown competition, one candidate for each one. Also, in 2006, for the first time ever, the designers appeared on stage with the delegates, showing their fabulous creations. For the first time, in 2008, a "best evening gown" prize was given to a designer; the winner was Gionni Stracia for Miss Monagas's dress. He also made the gown for Dayana Mendoza in the Miss Universe finals.
The winners chosen to represent Venezuela in the major pageants undergo continuous preparation before they compete internationally. These efforts are funded by corporate sponsors like Pepsi Cola, Palmolive, Colgate, Ebel and Lux who were attracted to the pageant by its high ratings.
Participation in international pageants
Between 1983 and 2003, Miss Venezuela placed into the Miss Universe semifinals each consecutive year, and placed in the top six or higher every year from 1991 to 2003. This streak was ended in 2004 when Ana Karina Anez was not chosen as a semi-finalist at Miss Universe 2004. Venezuela has also twice held the Miss Universe and Miss World titles simultaneously: in 19811982 with Irene Saez (Miss Universe) and Pilin Leon (Miss World), and again in 19951996 with Alicia Machado (Miss Universe) and Jacqueline Aguilera (Miss World). This makes Venezuela one of only two countries to have simultaneously held both titles twice (the other being Australia in 1972 and India in 1994 and 2000). In total, Venezuela has won over seventy international crowns under the guidance of the pageant, and the country's representatives have won at least one international title each year. It is said that Osmel Sousa will retire from his two decades of directing the pageant after seeing a Venezuelan crown another Venezuelan as Miss Universe. Until recently, when Venezuelan Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008, crowned her compatriot Stefania Fernandez as Miss Universe 2009, no country had ever won in this pageant on consecutive years (Three countries have done it in Miss World).
Success in other fields
Competing in the pageant can get a contestant noticed and launched on a successful television or print career. At least a dozen well sought models come out of the pageant. Virtually all of Venezuela's female top models and television personalities are alumni of the pageant, including Maite Delgado (who competed in 1986 against future Miss Universe Barbara Palacios, Alexandra Braun (Miss Earth 2005) and Dominika van Santen (Top Model of the World 2005) . In fact, only Gaby Espino and several other entertainment figures stand out as never having competed in the pageant. Many of today's top young models, such as Onelises Brochero and Wendy Medina, have repeatedly been rejected by Miss Venezuela; on the other hand, Goizeder Azua and Desiree Pallota, who have variously been considered the top domestic supermodels in the country, joined the pageant after establishing their careers.
Nowadays, familiar faces on Spanish TV networks around the world include Catherine Fulop, Carolina Perpetuo, Norkys Batista, Daniela Kosan, Viviana Gibelli, Marjorie de Sousa, Chiquinquira Delgado and Natalia Streignard. Two of the Latin world's most famous personalities, supermodel Patricia Velasquez and singer/actress Maria Conchita Alonso, also participated, in 1989 and 1975, respectively. Miss Universe 1981, Irene Saez, is perhaps most famous as the beauty queen who became mayor of part of metropolitan Caracas, governor, and then a presidential candidate in 1998.
Miss Venezuela and other countries
Some delegates in the pageant have been able to use their training to achieve success in other national pageants. Natascha Borger became the first Venezuelan to switch countries, when she won the Miss Deutschland title in 2002 after placing 14th at Miss Venezuela 2000. She went on to place sixth at Miss Universe 2002 behind Miss Venezuela Cynthia Lander. Miss Trujillo 2005 Angelika Hernandez Dorendorf also ended 3rd finalist at Miss Deutschland 2007 and cancelled her participation at the Miss Intercontinental of that same year in order to continue her Master degree. In 2006, Francys Sudnicka, who placed in the top 10 representing Trujillo in Miss Venezuela 2003, won the Miss Poland Universe title. She represented Poland at Miss Universe 2006,and later represented Poland in Miss Earth, taking a place in Top 8.
Three Venezuelans who have won the Miss Italia nel Mondo (Miss Italy in the World) pageant placed in the final five of Miss Venezuela: Barbara Clara (Miss Amazonas 2004), Valentina Patruno (Miss Miranda 2003) and Silvana Santaella (Miss Peninsula de Paraguana 2003). Patruno, though born Venezuelan, represented the United States.
Other countries such as Colombia, Philippines, and Brazil have sent their titleholders to be trained by Osmel Souza and the Venezuela pageant organization. In 2003, Amelia Vega of the Dominican Republic received training from them before going on to win the Miss Universe pageant; Mariangel Ruiz, Miss Venezuela 2002 placed second behind her.
In recent years the pageant organization has begun to "import" expatriates who have been working as international models. Miami has produced Valentina Patruno (Miss World Venezuela 2003), Andrea Gomez (Miss International Venezuela 2004), Monica Spear (Miss Venezuela 2004), Ileana Jimenez (Miss Portuguesa 2005), and Maria Alessandra Villegas (Miss Peninsula de Paraguana 2008).
Further notes of interest
Between 2000 and 2002, the Miss Venezuela pageant was split into two contests: the Miss World Venezuela pageant, to elect the representative to Miss World, from which a reduced group of contestants would go on to compete in Miss Venezuela to go to the Miss Universe contest. In 2002, the organization merged the Miss World Venezuela contest with the Gala de Belleza, making the final "state cut" before the election of the Miss World representative. The two pageants were rejoined in 2003.
The most coveted symbol of the pageant, its crown, is a specially designed masterpiece by engineer George Wittels. It is changed about every five years, and is currently a heavy piece made out of white gold, platinum, silver, Austrian crystals and pearls. Since 2000 Miss World Venezuela carries a crown inlaid with turquoise. Winners retain their sash but are not allowed to keep the costly crowns which are passed from year to year and held in the headquarters at La Quinta Miss Venezuela.
The great pride the organization carries in its winners is never in dispute, although there remains, according to popular legend, regret for only one "stolen" crown: Carolina Izsak, Miss Venezuela 1991, considered by some the greatest winner produced. She was considered all but assured the Miss Universe 1992 crown when a mediocre interview score dropped her out of the final three. Interestingly, Michelle McLean of Namibia won the title that year, but was only a finalist several months before at Miss World 1991 which was won by Ninibeth Leal, who in turn lost the Miss Venezuela 1991 title to Carolina.
The thousands of Venezuelan pageants fans agree that the country has had a lot of "stolen crowns" lately in the Miss Universe; such as Milka Chulina (1993), Minorka Mercado (1994), Marena Bencomo (1997), Veruska Ramirez (1998), and Ly Jonaitis (2007).
Order of succession
There has been considerable controversy in a number of major national pageants as to how to direct their contestants to Miss Universe, Miss World, and the other international contests. The reason for this issue is the dispute between the international pageants, who generally desire that the winner of a national contest be sent. Although many nations such as Italy and Germany have completely separate pageants for Miss Universe and Miss World, in the case of Miss Venezuela the national pageant organization must field candidates to almost all of the major world contests.
As of 2003, when the current system was put into place, the winners of the Miss Venezuela title (who goes to Miss Universe) and Miss World Venezuela are equal in rank. Nevertheless, the representative to Miss Universe is still announced last, and she is still considered the holder of the one single Miss Venezuela title. Nowadays, the final five finalists are announced during the telecast, followed by the elimination of the second and first runner-ups, then Miss Venezuela to Miss International, Miss Venezuela to Miss World, and Miss Venezuela to Miss Universe.
While this system is similar to that of Mexico and India, in Mexico the first runner-up is known as the "substitute" and in the order of succession automatically fills into any title above her that is emptied. For example, if "Nuestra Belleza Mexico Mundo" (Miss Mexico to Miss World) is unable to fulfill her duties, the first runner-up assumes her title. While the Miss Universe representative is similarly considered the "greater of the two equals", if her position is vacated, the first runner-up ascends to her crown, instead of Miss Mexico-World becoming Miss Mexico-Universe and the first runner-up going to Miss World. In India, however, the succession does follow the other option: the top three titles go Earth->World->Universe in rising order of importance (although they are also emphasized as "equals") and when Miss India World was dethroned in 2004, Miss India Earth replaced her, and the first runner-up was appointed to go to Miss Earth.
In Venezuela, neither policy of succession is explicitly laid down. Osmel Sousa makes the final decisions as to who is appointed when a vacancy arises; i.e. in 2003, there were significant rumors that Mariangel Ruiz might be replaced by Amara Barroeta, the first runner-up, to Miss Universe . In fact, in 2003, the Miss International Pageant was concurrent with Miss Venezuela, meaning that it would be impossible to send a "fresh" contestant, and Osmel actually opted not to send Amara, who should have gone (as the first runner-up then was almost always automatically titled Miss Venezuela International) and instead replaced her with Goizeder Azua, who won Miss International 2003. Due to scheduling conflicts between Miss International and Miss Venezuela, a similar situation occurred in 2002 when Cynthia Lander, Miss Venezuela (Universe), gave up her crown to the next Miss Venezuela and immediately boarded a flight for Japan to participate in Miss International. The reasoning was that her first runner-up had already participated the year before, and it would have been ridiculous to crown a Miss Venezuela (International) and immediately send her on a plane to her contest with no specific preparation whatsoever. Incidentally in 2006 the Miss World pageant shifted its pageant date from its usual NovemberDecember timeframe to September when the organization announced Poland as the competition venue. Due to the change in dates; it resulted to a timing conflict with the Miss Venezuela pageant. The Miss Venezuela organization decided to hold a snap pageant called "Miss Venezuela Mundo" to elect a representative for Miss World 2006. The said competition was composed of former Miss Venezuela contestants from previous editions. At the end of the night Federica Guzman who represented the state of Miranda in 2001 was the winner. Thus, all three winners, Miss Venezuela International, Miss Venezuela World and Miss Venezuela Universe now compete in the year after their coronation.
Ironically, the only time in the "modern" pageant that the famous "if the winner should not fulfill her duties, the first runner-up will take over" statement was made for Miss Venezuela was in 1999. The decision was made to send whoever won to Miss World first, and then to Miss Universe if she did not win. This policy was adopted after the consecutive eliminations of Christina Dieckmann and Veronica Schneider in 1997 and 1998, both of whom were considered amongst the strongest Miss World Venezuelas in history and whose eliminations were seen by the organization as a signal that it needed to send its winner to Miss World. Therefore, in 1999, there were no Miss World Venezuela or Miss Venezuela International titles, only an official Miss Venezuela, who was Martina Thorogood. Her first runner-up, Norkys Batista, was told that she would become Miss Venezuela to Miss Universe only if Martina won the Miss World crown outright. Martina came in second at Miss World and she was expected continue on to Miss Universe 2000 the next year. However, due to a number of major controversies, she was barred from Miss Universe 2000 on the grounds that as the first runner-up to Miss World, she was contracted to the organization and would have to succeed to that title if Yukta Mookhey, the winner that year, did not complete her reign. Osmel also declared that Miss Universe demanded a winner from Venezuela, thereby barring Norkys Batista from succeeding to the title. The only option for Norkys to go was for Martina to renounce the Miss Venezuela title, which neither she nor the organization was willing to do. Therefore, a new emergency (and temporary pageant) was held, called Miss Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which was conducted among ten former contestants (some semifinalists and other no finalists) from the previous five years. The winner, Claudia Moreno, had placed as seventh in the semifinals behind Martina and Norkys in Miss Venezuela 1999, and she ended up performing excellently and becoming first runner-up to Miss Universe 2000. In years to come, 2002's first runner-up Amara Barroeta would join Norkys Batista as one of several runners-ups to be "denied" the chance to compete at a "big three" pageant.
In the USA and many other countries, an occasion when the order of succession comes into play is when the reigning titleholder wins her international contest, e.g. in 1997 when Brook Mahealani Lee became Miss Universe and her first runner-up Brandi Sherwood became Miss USA. Interestingly, however, Venezuela does not have this official provision, even when the two "equal" winners both win Miss Universe and Miss World. In 1981, Miriam Quintana was considered somewhat unofficially as the serving Miss Venezuela, because both Irene Saez and Pilin Leon had won their respective pageants. However, in 19951996, when Alicia Machado took the Miss Universe title and Jacqueline Aguilera the Miss World crown, no new "Miss Venezuela" was appointed to hold the crown while they reigned internationally, though some newspapers said that Carla Steinkopf, Miss International Venezuela 1995, would give the crown to the 1996 winner. In general, all times when Venezuela has won the Miss Universe Pageant, is Miss Universe herself who gives the crown to the new Miss Venezuela, not Miss World Venezuela or another finalist.
The following women have been crowned Miss Venezuela:
Venezuelan representatives to International pageants
The following women have represented Venezuela in international pageants:
Representatives to Miss Universe
Representatives to Miss World
Representatives to Miss International
The contestant won the title
* Barely thirty-six (36) hours after being crowned Miss Venezuela 1976, Elluz Peraza gave up her title to get married and was succeeded by Judith Castillo.
** In 2000, the Miss Universe Organization refused the entry of Martina Thorogood, Miss Venezuela 1999 after placing second at Miss World 1999 and as well as that of her first runner-up Norkys Batista to the 2000 Miss Universe contest. The move forced the Miss Venezuela Organization to hold a snap pageant called Miss Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela (composed of former Miss Venezuela contestants from previous years) to select Venezuela's delegate to that year's pageant held in Nicosia, Cyprus.
*** In 1991, Jackeline Rodriguez of the state of Miranda was hand-picked by Osmel Sousa to represent Venezuela in the Miss Universe pageant that year because the 1991 Miss Venezuela pageant was moved to September.
**** The Miss World Organization announced that Miss World 2006 would be held in Poland on September 30, three months ahead of schedule. The Miss Venezuela Org. decided to return to the "emergency" system used in 200001 and hold a special pageant, Miss World Venezuela 2006. The winner was Federica Guzman, selected to represent Venezuela in Miss World 2006.
Miss Earth Venezuela
List of Miss Venezuela contestants
Miss Venezuela La Nueva Era MB
Miss Venezuela 2004 Competition Guide
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Miss Venezuela