Miss Global Domination … er … I mean, Universe

Darren Decker/Miss Universe Organization via Getty Images If no one in Venezuela noticed that the Olympics were over, it was because there is yet a bigger, more strategic game to be won. Care to guess? A soccer match? A local election? President Hugo Chávez trying out for American Idol? Nice try. As defending champion of ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
592783_080905_missven5.jpg
592783_080905_missven5.jpg

Darren Decker/Miss Universe Organization via Getty Images

If no one in Venezuela noticed that the Olympics were over, it was because there is yet a bigger, more strategic game to be won. Care to guess? A soccer match? A local election? President Hugo Chávez trying out for American Idol?

Nice try. As defending champion of the Miss Universe competition, the country is going all out to defend its title.

Darren Decker/Miss Universe Organization via Getty Images

If no one in Venezuela noticed that the Olympics were over, it was because there is yet a bigger, more strategic game to be won. Care to guess? A soccer match? A local election? President Hugo Chávez trying out for American Idol?

Nice try. As defending champion of the Miss Universe competition, the country is going all out to defend its title.

At the Miss Venezuela pageant, step one toward Miss Universe victory, stakes are high and the training is brutal. The competition’s Wikipedia entry claims that preparation for finalists can last up to six months. Rough, says one participant:

“It’s like a military school, it is really tough…Apart from the exercise there is the diet, chicken and salad, chicken and salad.”

The pageant is a culture, a phenomenon, and a highly rated TV program watched nationwide.

And even for those uninterested in such vain displays, there’s politics to boot. The country must have been glowing with pride when neighbor — and often rival — Colombia took 2nd place to Venezuela in Miss Universe last year. Rumor also has it that the Colombians have sent pageant candidates to be trained in Venezuela’s academies in the past.

The country’s newest Miss Venezuela — upon whose shoulders the dreams of beauty domination will ride — is set to be crowned next week.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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