Cuba Returns to Miss Universe After 57 Years

After 57 years, Cuba will have a representative in Miss Universe, selected from exiled Cuban aspirants in a Miami contest on September 15. This historic return emphasizes inclusion and cultural pride in the international beauty pageant.

After 57 years of absence, Cuba will have a representative in the Miss Universe pageant, selected from exiled Cuban aspirants in a contest to be held in Miami on September 15, as announced by organizer ‘Prince’ Julio César.

The national director of Miss Cuba, Julio César, revealed to EFE that Miss Universe, the global parent company of beauty pageants, has taken on a “new challenge” this year to include representatives from over 120 countries, including Cuba. The grand event is scheduled to take place in Mexico in November.

“Miss Universe was a fully American company; therefore, it was closed to potential transactions with Cuba. No U.S. businessman showed interest in organizing Miss Cuba in exile for Miss Universe,” César explained.

Cuba’s return to the Miss Universe pageant is attributed to the organization’s vision of inclusion. “They are betting on inclusion from all perspectives, especially cultural, aligning with the movement of female empowerment,” César said. The organization aims to ensure that women, regardless of their country’s political situation, have the opportunity to participate.

César emphasized that the Miss Universe organization, which has over 60 years of history, strictly avoids any transactions with the Cuban government. “We do not deal with dictatorial governments; we work only with fully democratic governments. Hence, Cuba will participate in Miss Universe, but this time from Miami,” he stated.

The decision to select Miami as the location for the Miss Cuba contest is significant. Miami, just 144 kilometers from Cuba, is home to the most prominent Cuban diaspora in the world. This city has become a central hub for Cuban culture and identity, making it an ideal location for such a historic event.

Selection Process and Contest Details

Just over half of the thousand aspirants in Miami, a mix of women born in Cuba and those with Cuban parents, were preselected. This group will be narrowed down to twenty finalists competing for the crown in September. The coronation event will be broadcast on Mega TV.

Most contestants were born in Cuba and arrived in the U.S. by various means, including rafts, boats, or visas. The winner will carry a message of freedom and democracy to Mexico, aligning with the values of Miss Universe’s vision of inclusion, which transcends political paradigms.

The idea of inclusion has been a guiding principle for Miss Universe. This year, a 60-year-old contestant vied for Miss Argentina, and last year, a married woman with a daughter represented Miss Colombia in El Salvador, reaching the top 5 finalists. These examples highlight the organization’s commitment to giving all women, regardless of age or marital status, a platform to showcase their qualities and virtues.

Current Miss Universe and Political Challenges

The reigning Miss Universe, Sheynnis Palacios, was crowned last year in El Salvador. She is the first Nicaraguan and Central American to win an international competition. She currently resides in New York, fulfilling her duties with the global franchise. Her return to Nicaragua remains to be determined.

The Miss Nicaragua organization is facing significant challenges. Karen Celebertti, the former director, was exiled by Daniel Ortega’s government and accused of conspiracy and treason. This situation underscores the political complexities and risks of representing countries under dictatorial regimes.

The return of Cuba to the Miss Universe pageant symbolizes hope and resilience for many in the Cuban community. It represents a celebration of beauty and a statement of cultural pride and political defiance. The contestants and the winner will carry the dreams and aspirations of countless Cubans in exile.

Impact on the Cuban Community in Miami

Hosting the Miss Cuba contest in Miami is more than just a logistical decision; it is a cultural and emotional milestone for the Cuban community. The event provides a platform for Cuban exiles to connect with their heritage and celebrate their identity. It also offers a unique opportunity to highlight the struggles and triumphs of the Cuban diaspora.

The selection of Miss Cuba will attract significant media attention, both in the United States and internationally. This coverage will spotlight the Cuban community in Miami and the broader issues of inclusion and representation in global beauty pageants. The event’s visibility will help elevate Cuban exiles’ voices and bring their stories to a broader audience.

The upcoming Miss Universe pageant in Mexico will be historic for Cuba and the international pageant community. It will showcase the power of inclusion and the importance of giving all women a platform to express their unique stories and perspectives.

As the world watches, the Cuban representative will walk the stage not just as a contestant but as a symbol of cultural pride, resilience, and the enduring spirit of the Cuban people. This event marks a new chapter in the history of Miss Universe. It sets a precedent for future inclusivity and diversity in the pageant world.

Also read: ‘Hotel Cocaine’ Explores 1970s Miami’s Drug Underworld Through Cuban Lens

The return of Cuba to Miss Universe is a reminder that beauty and talent know no borders and that the pursuit of dreams can transcend political and cultural barriers. It is a celebration of the strength and determination of women everywhere and a testament to the enduring power of hope and inclusion.

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