Venezuela churning out beauty queens amid crisis - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Venezuela churning out beauty queens amid crisis

Posted: Updated:
Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, from the United States, right, places the crown on Miss Venezuela Gabriela Isler during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, from the United States, right, places the crown on Miss Venezuela Gabriela Isler during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — For most Venezuelans, these are trying times. Inflation is running at a two-decade high, salaries are being corroded by a plunging currency and basic goods like milk and toilet paper are in short supply. But even as the economy shows signs of imploding, the country still churns out beauty, as evidenced by Maria Gabriela Isler's pocketing Saturday of the country's third Miss Universe title in six years.

Within minutes of Isler's crowning in Moscow, President Nicolas Maduro sent his congratulations over Twitter, celebrating her performance as a "triumph for Venezuela."

Opponents of his socialist government also expressed pride.

"There's no doubt we have the most beautiful women of the world," said Marco Sandoval, a 68-year-old retiree, as he and dozens of others marched in Caracas against the government in a protest hastily-organized over the Internet. "But nothing is perfect. We also have the most corrupt and shameless politicians in the world."

Born in the city of Valencia, the 25-year-old Isler works as an anchor for Venevision, a channel owned by the Cisneros business group that also has the rights to the annual Miss Venezuela pageant, one of the nation's most-watched televised events. The 5-foot, 10-inch brunette edged out finalists from Spain, Brazil, Ecuador and the Philippines to take the crown in its 61st edition.

Venezuela has won more major international beauty competitions than any other nation, including now seven Miss Universe titles, and beauty queens rank alongside baseball players and oil as the country's biggest exports. A whole industry of grooming schools, plastic surgeons and beauty salons has emerged to prepare young women for the thousands of pageants that take place each year around the country in schools, army barracks and even prisons.

More recently this obsession with beauty has taken a backseat to more mundane concerns, as soaring inflation of 54 percent and worsening shortages of basic goods makes it harder for families to put food on the table.

Driving the crisis has been a collapse in the currency, which has plunged to a tenth of its official value in illegal black market trading. To arrest the fall, Maduro last week ordered the military to inspect prices and shut down businesses found to be charging abusive prices. A day after the government seized control of a nationwide chain of appliance stores, doors reopened Saturday to throngs of shoppers seeking to buy televisions, washing machines and refrigerators at a fraction of their listed price.

___

Associated Press Writer Joshua Goodman contributed to this report from Caracas.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Entertainment NewsEntertainment NewsMore>>

  • The Mouse chases the Fox: Disney makes $71B counteroffer

    The Mouse chases the Fox: Disney makes $71B counteroffer

    Thursday, June 21 2018 2:16 PM EDT2018-06-21 18:16:46 GMT
    The competition for Fox is heating up, as Disney is boosting its offer for the company to $70.3 billion. 
    The competition for Fox is heating up, as Disney is boosting its offer for the company to $70.3 billion. 
  • Peter Fonda apologizes for 'vulgar' Barron Trump tweet

    Peter Fonda apologizes for 'vulgar' Barron Trump tweet

    Thursday, June 21 2018 12:24 PM EDT2018-06-21 16:24:10 GMT
    (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2018 file photo, Peter Fonda presents the Desert Palm achievement award at the 29th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs, Calif. Fonda has apologized for a l...(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2018 file photo, Peter Fonda presents the Desert Palm achievement award at the 29th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs, Calif. Fonda has apologized for a l...
    Peter Fonda apologizes for Barron Trump tweet saying first son be ripped from mother's arms. 
    Peter Fonda apologizes for Barron Trump tweet saying first son be ripped from mother's arms. 
  • After 4,000 episodes, a halt for Jerry Springer's show

    After 4,000 episodes, a halt for Jerry Springer's show

    Thursday, June 21 2018 11:44 AM EDT2018-06-21 15:44:02 GMT
    (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2014 file photo, TV talk show host Jerry Springer attends the premiere of the Discovery Channel's "Klondike" in New York. After more than 4,000 episodes of "The Jerry Springer Show," s...(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2014 file photo, TV talk show host Jerry Springer attends the premiere of the Discovery Channel's "Klondike" in New York. After more than 4,000 episodes of "The Jerry Springer Show," s...
    Producers quietly announce the end of new episodes of Jerry Springer's raucous talk show, which once challenged Oprah Winfrey for daytime TV supremacy. 
    Producers quietly announce the end of new episodes of Jerry Springer's raucous talk show, which once challenged Oprah Winfrey for daytime TV supremacy. 
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.