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A Breast Implant Shortage In Venezuela Might Save Us A Miss Universe Headache In Miami


Let’s be clear: Breast implants are no laughing matter.

Women who’ve had mastectomies can depend on them. Women who’ve had self-esteem issues can turn to them. And if they’re defective, women can die from them.

But let’s be honest: When the Associated Press this week reported a shortage of breast implants in Venezuela – the latest of a host of product scarcities in that whack economy – a lot of people chuckled.

And they did so not from lack of sensitivity, but because this is Venezuela we’re talking about – a country where the lust for cosmetic surgery makes Ocean Drive look Amish. And nothing reflects the depth of that superficiality more than the one Venezuelan business that rivals oil: the Miss Universe industry.

RELATED: How Venezuela Won Miss Universe - And Lost Its Relevance

Beauty pageants themselves feel a tad embarrassing in the 21st century, a ritual that rates women about as thoughtfully as Don Draper ogles secretaries at a three-martini lunch. (Quick, tell me the most recent Miss America’s answer to the how-would-you-change-the-world question. Right, it didn’t matter to you, either.)

But the way Venezuela does beauty queens is Stepford Wives stuff. It has produced seven Miss Universes, more than any other country – and it owes that crown to an assembly line process that evokes an East German swim team. It just injects silicone instead of steroids.

At a Miss Universe pageant held in Doral, Miss Venezuela will be the Elian Gonzalez of beauty contestants.

Consider the asinine comment Miss Venezuela director Osmel Sousa made to the New York Times last year – “I say that inner beauty doesn’t exist. That’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves” – and you get a good sense of how asinine his world can be.

Teeth are filed down. Gums are cut up. Plastic is sewn to tongues to suppress appetite. And that’s just the oral checklist. You don’t want to know how Sousa’s scalpel squad alters the rest of a beauty’s body.

Including, of course, boob jobs – which require the breast implants that Sousa and his girls apparently can’t find anymore.

But there’s a silver lining to this cleavage calamity, and it’s related to this week’s other big news: The announcement by the City of Doral, here in Miami-Dade County, that it will host the 2015 Miss Universe contest.

This matters because Doral is home to the U.S.’s largest Venezuelan community. Hence its nickname, Doralzuela. That cohort fiercely opposes the radical socialist government back home – and that regime just as fiercely hates Doralzuelans.

So imagine what next year’s Miss Venezuela will face at a Miss Universe pageant in Doral. She’ll be the Elián González of beauty contestants.


If she's loyal to the government in Caracas, there will be demonstrations outside the Trump National Doral Miami hotel, where the pageant will be held, protesting her participation. But if she's not and she wins on expatriate turf, Doral will claim her as its Venus. She'll be a sign that God does favor those who bolted the Bolivarian Revolution – their political blunders as an opposition force notwithstanding.

They might not even let her return to Venezuela. And then, as in Elián’s case, the feds might have to storm the Trump and whisk her away. (Then again, even if they do, she probably won’t be able to find a seat on what flights from MIA to Venezuela still exist.)

Caracas, meanwhile, will hail her as a socialist siren, the compañera who ventured bravely into the evil U.S. imperio and triumphed over los escuálidos – the “squalid ones,” as the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez dubbed his foes.

And current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro will fête her like an astronaut to distract his country from the economic and security collapse he's presiding over.

Should she lose, both sides will blame the other. Maduro will call it a conspiracy, part of the escuálido “economic war” against him. Doralzuelans will hold Maduro’s economic blunders responsible for the breast-implant shortage that kept Miss Venezuela from having sublime mammaries and, as a result, from emerging victorious in their Miss Universe spectacular.

But that’s precisely the silver lining I'm talking about. With no breast implants to be had in Venezuela, you really can’t manufacture a Miss Venezuela. And therefore no Miss Venezuela in the Miss Universe pageant. And therefore none of those sordid political scenarios for us to deal with here. The kind that might inspire Pamela Druckerman to write another really bad articleabout Miami.

And the lining gets more silver. All this might even force Venezuelans to see their women for something more than tummy tucks. Maybe, God forbid, for the inner beauty Sousa says doesn’t exist. Being married to a Venezuelan, I know they possess a lot of it. Even if Sousa possesses none of it.

Tim Padgett is WLRN's Americas editor. You can read more of his coverage here.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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