When a Miss Universe beauty contest is celebrated in a few weeks, Chile will be represented by a thin brunette woman with a relaxing smile and a clear Venezuelan accent.
Andrea Díaz was born and raised in Valencia, Venezuela, where from the age of 12 she learned to move her hips and walk with cute feet on the catwalk to a local modeling academy. At 19 he won a contest organized by the city's baseball team and became an ambassador of goodwill.
But Diaz's career is changing at the age of 20 when he first moved to Panama and then to Mexico to act as a model, a kind of work that is now rare in a crucial Venezuela. Three years ago he settled in Chile, where most of his family also moved.
At the age of 26, Díaz says he represents "New Chile," a comprehensive country where immigrants are looking for new opportunities while preparing for a gym event in Santiago.
As thousands of people flee daily from Venezuela that escapes food shortages and inflation is expected to exceed one million percent, dozens of aspiring queens of beauty leave to work as models or media abroad.
Some even parade with their countries of adoption in international beauty competitions.
Next month, Portugal will be represented in the Miss World competition in China by a former participant in Miss Venezuela. And in the recent Tierra, celebrated in the Philippines, two Venezuelans competed against the bands of Peru and Spain.
Jessica Rousso, who represented Peru, her mother's motherland, said her dream of becoming a queen of beauty did not end when she arrived in her new country a year ago. He failed to qualify for the final, but said he would train for more competitions, hoping to win the crown.
Beauty contests have almost the same expectation as Venezuela's baseball, a nation with years of obsession with charm and good physical appearance. The nation is the leader of international beauty competitions: she won seven Miss Universe crowns and six Miss World titles.
Though critics consider these mischievous and outdated contests, many in Venezuela are defending them by pointing out that they have helped hundreds of women from all walks of life to start their career as models, actors and TV or news-leaders. An old lady Venezuela became mayor of the region in Caracas and presented herself, albeit unsuccessfully, as a candidate for the presidency.
But as the Venezuelan economy sinks, many national competitions are no longer a direct route to employment. Live fashion shows have been suspended, TV productions have slowed, and companies like fashion brands are increasingly avoiding investing in advertising.
Giselle Reyes manages four modeling schools for young people in the country, which she calls a "beauty university". He estimates that about 70% of those who graduate from their centers have left the country in recent decades to work as models in Mexico, Colombia or the United States, among other countries.
In his studio in Caracas, decorated with celebrity photos that won beauty contests, Reyes recognizes that he now has trouble even finding trainers who leave the country as soon as they have the opportunity.
Neither the most competitive competition in Venezuela seems to guarantee their graduates a job in the nation.
Every year, Venezuela, broadcast across the country, elects 24 participants who spend six months in a demanding academy that includes day-to-day training, modeling courses, and teacher talks that sometimes restrict their students from doing business . of cosmetic surgery.
However, at least 17 of the 2015 participants appear to work in Mexico, Colombia, Turkey and even India, according to their profile in social networks. Among the participants in 2014, the data is similar.
Many of the Venezuelan beauty queens who went abroad say their rigorous preparation in their country helped them succeed. But they also feel relieved that they are free from the strict standards imposed by organizers of events.
Díaz said that when he lived in Venezuela, he underwent cleansing of the skin that went wrong and left small scars and reddish spots on both cheeks. Venezuelan modeling bodies began to reject it.
In Chile, Diaz won the lost band despite the spots, which are easily covered with makeup. He was able to participate in the competition because his father is Chilean.
Now, as she prepares for the next month's Miss Universe contest in Thailand, the model hopes the jury will not focus on her physical features but she will see her as a cosmopolitan woman who has moved all over the world to achieve her goal . . He says he dreams of becoming a motivational speaker and working with young people on self-esteem.
Associated Press reporter Manuel Rueda reported from Bogota, Colombia, and Eva Vergara from Santiago, Chile. AP Joeal Calupitan journalists in Manila, Philippines, and Clbyburn Saint John in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this office.
Manuel Rueda is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ruedareport
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