SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – When the Miss Universe beauty contest will take place in a few weeks, Chile will represent a slender brunette who has a killer smile and speaks Spanish with a clear Venezuelan accent.
Andrea Diaz was born and raised in Valencia, Venezuela, where from the age of 12 she learned to stretch her hips and gracefully climb sections at the local modeling academy. After 19 years she won an event organized by her native baseball team and became a charity ambassador to the team.
But Diaz's career changed in her twenties when she moved to Panama and then to Mexico to simulate jobs that now lack the Venezuelan crisis. Three years ago she settled in Chile, where most of her families have moved.
"I represent the new Chile," said a 26-year-old man, in the forthcoming competition she attended the local gym in Santiago. "This is an inclusive country where immigrants are looking for opportunities."
As thousands of people leave Venezuela every day to avoid food shortages and inflation rates that are expected to exceed 1 million percent, dozens of potential beauty queens also fly and seek work as models and media personalities abroad.
Some of them even represent their adopted motherland in international beauty contests.
Next month, Portugal will be represented at the Miss World Competition in China by a former Miss Venezuela player. And the recently concluded Miss Earth conference in the Philippines showed two Venezuelan models that competed for Peru and Spain.
"My dream of the queen of beauty was not stopping just because I arrived in a new country," said Jessica Russo, who represented Peru Mis Earth, just a year after she went to that country.
She could not do it in the final, but said she would now train more racers where she hopes to win Peru, the country where his mother was born.
"I'm still young," said the 22-year-old. "And I want to be a global agent for good causes."
The beauty of the guests is respected almost to the same extent as Baseball in Venezuela, which has long been obsessed with charm and good looks. The South American country is the world leader in international competitions, with seven Miss Universe wreaths and six Miss World titles.
Although critics have described the shows as inappropriate and obsolete, they are protected by many venozueles who say that the events have helped hundreds of women of all social classes start their career as models, actresses, TV hosts and news broadcasters. One former Venezuelan PM's prime minister even became the mayor of Caracas and failed to hold the country's presidency.
But, as the Venezuelan economy lacks, the country's many bidders no longer offer a direct path to employment. Online fashion shows have stopped, TV creations have slowed down, and companies like fashion brands are increasingly refraining from spending money on ads.
Giselle Reyes runs four model schools for young women in Venezuela, which she considers a "beauty university". She estimated that about 70 percent of her graduates have left the country over the past decade to look for job simulations in Mexico, Colombia, the United States and other countries.
"I even have a hard time finding modeling instructors now," Reyes said in a studio at Caracas, wrapped up with celebrity photos for Venezuela's winners. "People always tell me that they will work for me for a few months, until they find a way to leave the country."
Even Venezuela's most competitive beauty contest no longer seems to guarantee graduates work in their own country.
The Miss Venezuelan National Television Competition selects annually 24 participants and announces them with a terrific six-month academy, which includes daily gymnastics, model classes and teacher talks that sometimes appeal to students in plastic surgery.
But at least 17 Miss Venezuela 2015 classmates seem to work abroad in Mexico, Colombia, Turkey, and even as far as India, according to a web search for social media profiles. The number of contestants in 2014 is similar in foreign countries.
"In the 1990s, with Miss Venezuela, you almost guaranteed that you were working on modeling or television," said Raffael Briceno, Caracas radio businessman, who has given dozens of Venezuelan Missouri performers to the public. "Now the local model market is very small."
Many of the Queens of Venezuela's beauty, who have gone abroad, show their strong preparations in Venezuela to help them succeed. But they are also relieved to relieve of the demanding cookie-cut beauty standards introduced by home-contest organizers.
Diaz said that, while she was still living in Venezuela, she went to a skin cleansing session that was wrong and left small scars and red patches on both cheeks. Then Venezuelan modeling agencies began to reject her.
In Chile, Diaz was able to win the state beauty contest, despite the rash that can easily be concealed by makeup. She had the opportunity to participate because her father was a Chilean.
"Chile accepted me like me and helped me regain the belief that I have lost," Diaz said.
Now that she is preparing for the Miss Universe scene next month in Thailand, the model hopes that the jury will not only focus on her physical characteristics, but will see him as a cosmopolitan woman who has moved around the world to achieve her goals. She says she's dreaming of a motivational speaker working with young people about self-esteem issues.
"A beautiful woman is not only a woman with perfect skin," Diaz said, "but a person with a heart, with ideas and a sense of purpose."
Associated press writer Manuel Rueda reported from Bogota, Colombia, and AP writer Eva Vergara reported in Santiago, Chile. AP journalists at Joeal Calupitan in Manila, Philippines, and Clbyburn Saint John Carque, Venezuela, participated in this report.