‘No comment’

Observer senior reporter

THE organisers of the Miss Universe Jamaica beauty pageant are choosing to remain silent at this time amidst a growing call for a boycott of the Miss Universe competition set for Eilat, Israel, on December 12.

When the Jamaica Observer contacted Mark McDermoth of franchise holder Uzuri International, he was resolute in his response as to the position of his organisation.

“We do not have a comment on the matter at this time,” was all McDermoth was prepared to say. The South African government has categorically stated that it will not support sending its delegate, Lalela Mswane, to the pageant in support of the call for a boycott by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). PACBI’s statement reads: “Israel’s far-right apartheid regime oppresses all Palestinians. We urge participants in Miss Universe 2021 to do no harm to our struggle for freedom, justice, and equality by withdrawing from the pageant.”

South Africa supports the Palestinian cause and established formal diplomatic relations with them in 1995, a year after apartheid ended. It downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv in 2019 and pulled out its ambassador.

Jamaica’s representative to this year’s contest, Deanna Soares, was crowned two weeks ago and is currently being prepared for the global leg.

This is not the first time an international pageant is facing a call for a boycott.

In 1976, a number of countries withdrew their delegates from Miss World to protest against the presence of a representative from apartheid-ruled South Africa. Jamaica was not one of the countries to pull their queen and Cindy Breakspeare went on to win and become the country’s second holder of the title after Carole Joan Crawford in 1963.

However, by the following year, the call for the boycott had grown louder and Jamaica’s representative Sandra Kong was withdrawn.

In 1978, the organisers of Miss World gave in to the protest and withdrew South Africa. That year, Joan McDonald represented Jamaica at the contest in London.

Jamaica has never won the Miss Universe pageant. However, a number of the delegates have represented themselves well on that stage. These include Yendi Philipps, Sandra Foster, Davina Bennett, Christine Straw, and Nicole Haughton. Miqueal-Symone Williams, who participated in the 2020 pageant, which was held earlier this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, also fared well, finishing in the top 10.

Featured Image – Miss Jamaica Universe Daena Soares

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