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Venezuelan is the new Miss Universe

  • Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, from the United States, right, places the crown on Miss Venezuela Gabriela Isler during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

A whole industry of grooming schools, plastic surgeons and beauty salons has emerged to prepare young women for the thousands of pageants that take place each year around the country in schools, army barracks and even prisons.

Venezuela has managed to keep its beauty queen industry flourishing, despite economic problems have worsened in recent weeks as inflation touched a two-decade high of 54 percent and shortages of basic goods like toiled paper and milk have worsened.

Driving the crisis has been a collapse in the currency, which has plunged to a tenth of its official value in illegal black market trading.

To arrest the fall, Maduro last week ordered the military to inspect prices and shut down businesses found to be charging abusive prices. A day after the government seized control of a nationwide chain of appliance stores, doors reopened Saturday to throngs of shoppers seeking to buy TVs, washing machines and refrigerators at a fraction of their listed price.

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Joshua Goodman contributed from Caracas, Venezuela.


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