By Alicia Civita
Hollywood, Florida, US, May 16 (EFE).- Mexican Andrea Meza was crowned Miss Universe at a Sunday gala held on the outskirts of Miami that became an impromptu Latin party, as the first and the second finalists were Miss Brazil Julia Gama and Miss Peru Janick Maceta.
Meza, a 26-year-old software engineer, will take the third Miss Universe crown back to Mexico, after Lupita Jones, who won in 1991, and Ximena Navarrete in 2010.
Miss Mexico, a native of the northern state of Chihuahua, had stood out since the first days of the competition, which took place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, located in the city of Hollywood, 36 km north of Miami.
Miss Bolivia Lenka Nemer received the first Impact Award for her Urban Gardens organization, which teaches poor communities to grow their own food.
The award for the best national costume went to Miss Myanmar, Thuzar Wint Lwin, who managed to turn around a catastrophe when her suitcase of gowns did not show up and had to rely on help from the Myanmar community in the US as well as other contestants.
At one point she wore a traditional dress from Chin state and held up a poster that read “Pray for Myanmar,” in reference to the military junta that took power in her country on Feb. 1 of this year through a coup and plunged the country into crisis.
The show, hosted by actor, producer and presenter Mario López, and former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, began with the presentation of the candidates dressed in short sequined dresses in shades of orange, emerald green and turquoise blue, and who presented themselves to the rhythm of Pitbull songs.
The top five – Meza, Gama, Maceta, as well as Miss India Adline Castellino and Miss Dominican Republic Kimberly Jimenez – were interviewed about the pandemic, women’s leadership and gender violence.
Miss Mexico and Miss India were asked about the pandemic. Both countries are among those with the highest mortality rate in the world and the beauty queens were firm in their views of the situation.
“I believe what I would have done is create the lockdown even before everything was that big because we lost so many lives and we cannot afford that. We have to take care of our people. That’s why I would have taken care of them since the beginning,” said Meza.
“You have to draw a balance between economy and health, and that can only happen when the government works with the people hand in hand and produces something that will work with the economy,” said Castellino.
Miss Peru was asked what she would say to the women watching who were experiencing sexual or domestic abuse.
“I became the hero of my own story. That’s why I advocate to save little girls from being victims. They are survivors, they are heroes,” Maceta said.
From the beginning of the contest it seemed that the crown would stay this year on the American continent. In the first group of semi-finalists there were nine Latin Americans: Miss Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Curacao, the United States and Jamaica completed the group of candidates from the continent.
Making it to the top 10 were contestants from Jamaica, Dominican Republic, India, Peru, Australia, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil. EFE