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Politics Invades Mexican Beauty Pageant

April 27, 1987 GMT

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) _ Police were posted in every aisle and outside the auditorium where the Miss Chihuahua beauty queen was chosen, as the event was marred by rumors that the contest was rigged by the ruling political party.

Rumors had run rampant before and during the contest that the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had fixed the pageant in this city across the Rio Grande from El Paso Texas, so that Miss Chihuahua City, Gabriela Trespalacios, would win the crown.

Every time she walked on the runway or tried to speak, she was booed and hissed by the crowd of nearly 5,000, but she never lost her composure.

In fact, Katharine Rempenning Semadeni, 24, of Chuauhtemoc, was crowned Saturday as Senorita Chihuahua. Miss Trespalacios, 22, was first runner-up and Patricia de la Garza, 18, of Delicias, was second runner-up.

″None of the judges has anything in common,″ said Gaston de Bayona, chairman of the committee that selected the pageant judges. ″Besides, it’s unfair for the public to take out their anger on the contestants.

″Those young women already have enough to contend with, without having to worry about a public that does not respect their efforts.″

Officials had prepared for possible protests from the opposition National Action Party, or PAN, if Miss Chihuahua City were chosen.

PRI controls the municipal governments of Juarez and Chihuahua City and has been undefeated in the federal government for 58 years. Juarez, formerly a PAN stronghold, is the largest city in the state of Chihuahua, and Chihuahua City is the state capital.

PAN claimed that last summer’s municipal elections throughout the state were fixed by PRI, which nearly swept every election. PRI officials denied the accusations.

The crowning of Miss Rempenning at the University Cultural Center brought cheers from the audience.

The greatest applause, however, went to singer Vikki Carr, a native of El Paso, who sang in English and Spanish.

As winner of the Senorita Chihuahua crown, Miss Rempenning received $2,000, a trip to the Caribbean, a tour of Mexico and a shot at the national crown in a pageant scheduled for May 25 in Chihuahua City.