Drunk American Tourist Disrupts Traditional Guatemalan Beauty Pageant
COBAN, GUATEMALA (Digital Dementia News Services) - Pretty young women sashay across stage, thoughtfully answer questions and perform dances but the Rabin Ajaw pageant, which picks Guatemala's Maya Indian beauty queen, is no typical beauty contest.
Instead of bikinis and high heels, the 78 female contestants dress in traditional Mayan knee or calf-length skirts, headdresses and shawls embroidered with flowers and animals.
“This must be somebody’s sick idea of a joke!” complained Rubin Abramowitz of Poughkeepsie, New York. “I’ve spent a lot of money flying down here because I thought there was going to be a real beauty pageant, you know, with a little T&A, long colt-like legs and navels and stuff. This is pure horseshit!”
Parading on a stage that was covered in pine needles, some contestants carried woven baskets or ceremonial candles from their home regions. Others bore corn stalks, carved gourds, fresh fish or a copy of the Popol Vuh, the Mayan holy book which is also contains numerous recipes for dynamite mescal punch and recommendations for one hum-dinger of a party.
During a four-day festival in the city of Coban that ended Sunday with a traditional feast of turkey leg soup and spicy chili, the girls gave speeches in their native languages for judges to select one Rabin Ajaw, or "daughter of the king who looks the best when covered up in calf-length skirt and a headdress or if not that, at least a paper bag worn over her head."
The contestants did their best to ignore the cat-calls and wolf-whistles from the very drunken Mr. Abramowitz who repeatedly exhorted the contestants to “Come on and shake ‘em for daddy!”
The judging is based on contestants' knowledge of Mayan culture and the beauty of their costumes. Some used the stage at the often solemn six-hour pageant to highlight racism against indigenous groups, which account for more than half of Guatemala's population but suffer the highest levels of poverty and have little access to political power.
“Give me a freakin’ break! You just know some tree-hugger lesbo commies put them up to this. There is no way these goat herders came up with this crap propaganda all on their own.” sniped Mr. Abramowitz from the back row.
This year's winner, Mariana Sales Jacinto, 21, spoke in her native Mam language about environmental damage caused by international companies like Dole and Chiquita that exploit resources on lands traditionally used for agriculture and instead use them for … agriculture, but in a much more modern, highly efficient, profitable and therefore horribly degrading way.
Jacinto won $1,000 and a trip to south Florida to visit a community of Guatemalans in exile who left during country's civil war and, last but not least, a brand new 2007 Hummer with a sunroof, chrome package and bangin’ stereo system with woofers that can be heard from here to Teguchigalpa.
Critics say the pageant, sponsored this year by Coca-Cola, a film company and Domino's Pizza, offends Mayan culture by turning it into a tourist attraction.
"This folklore festival is a violation of young rural indigenous women because all that is important is their outfits, their dances and the color of their skin," said anthropologist Irma Alicia Velasquez.
“And don’t forget … the size and shape of their melons!” came the call from the back row.
"The festival was founded and financed by the military that used the event as a strategy to display Indians as submissive," Velasquez said.
“I’ll drink to that!” burped a familiar voice from deep in the shadows.