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The Queen of the People


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In 1944, Caracas hosts the 7th Amateur Baseball World Series. The organizers decide that the beauty queen of the event has to be elected via a popular vote. The title is disputed by Yolanda Leal, a school teacher from a humble neighbourhood, and Oly Clemente, a young woman from Caracas' high society. The beauty pageant soon turns into a passionate contest of national proportions. The country was entering a transition to democracy and the newly formed political organizations understood the event as a means to promote their ideas. It was an opportunity to test the citizen's political capacity to elect their rulers. This is how the first universal election in Venezuela was held in order to choose a beauty queen. As in most Spanish speaking Caribbean countries, baseball in Venezuela is a national passion. At that time, every sport contest had a queen who had to combine some attributes: beauty, congeniality and a fondness for sports. The Amateur Baseball World Series is announced as a big event and the election of its queen captures all the attention. The candidates travel across the country, gaining supporters. Oly's green eyes and Yolanda's charm attract multitudes everywhere. It becomes a tough contest and the media clearly take sides. At the time, only literate men, over the age of 21, were allowed to vote. The main opposition political party insists in the urgency of an electoral reform to establish the universal, direct and secret vote. The election of the Queen of the World Series becomes an opportunity to demonstrate that people were eager and ready to cast a vote. The campaign reaches its climax when one of Oly's radio supporters voices the slogan: "Oly Clemente for decent (decente) people, Yolanda Leal for vulgar people?." From that moment onwards, the contest is openly understood as a clash between social classes. On October 1st, 1944 thousands of Venezuelans turn up to vote in the stadiums and theatres that have been converted into voting centers. Everybody is eager to support his or her candidate and cast a vote for the first time. An unprecedented democratic exercise. The Queen of the People (La Reina del Pueblo) is a documentary by Juan Andreas Bello. It was produced by Producciones Triana, with the participation of Centro Nacional Autonomo de Cinematografia.

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