Miss Belize Universe pageant controversy erupted in April of this year when father of Miss Belize Rebecca Rath’s father, Tony Rath, released a five-part chronicle describing their accounts of Rebeca’s journey to the Miss Universe Pageant. The chronicles depicted the hardships and issues encountered by Rebecca and her family and spoke of pageant organizer/director Opal Enrique’s shortcomings, unkept promises and lack of direction. (Click Here for Tony Rath’s ‘The Rocky Road to Miss Universe’)
Ms. Enriquez remained silent through the release of Mr. Rath’s chronicles until this past week when she published a five-page release in her defense. In the release she announced her time to pursue personal goals, that she will not hold a Miss Belize 2017 Pageant and that effective immediately the official title of Miss Belize 2017 and all affiliated duties as the reigning Miss Belize have been passed on 2016 first runner- up, Marcia Moody of San Ignacio, Cayo.
In an interview, Opal explained that Rebecca has not been 'dethroned' as she still remaines in the history books as Miss Belize 2016. She stated that Rebecca's crown and title are not being stripped from her. The title of Miss Belize 2017 is being passed on to Marcia Moody at this point because she is readying to represent Belize at the Miss International Pageant in Japan this coming November. Moody needs the title of Miss Belize to be a viable contestant at the pageant, so Rebecca Rath's reign as Miss Belize has been cut short about four months. Below is Opal Enriquez’s official statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 26th, 2017
MISS BELIZE “CROWN CHRONICLES” (VOL. X111)
STATEMENT FROM OPAL ENRIQUEZ
BELIZE CITY, Belize -- Greetings my beloved Belizeans. First, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to everyone who has supported Queen of the Jewel throughout the years. I would especially like to thank our corporate partners: BTB, NICH, Great Belize Television Channel 5, McNab Visual Strategies, The Best Western Biltmore Plaza, Music Ambassador Shyne Barrow, Maruba Resort, Midas Resort, The Ministry of Education, and Bowen & Bowen.
Our epic return to Miss Universe was a monumental accomplishment in pageantry. The overwhelming amount of support Rebecca received from Belizeans at home and abroad speaks volumes about our ability to stand together as a nation. Rebecca represented our country well and will forever be remembered as the young woman with the beautiful smile and engaging spirit who took Belize back to the world stage.
It has been an honor to serve my country as National Director of such a prestigious franchise. Alongside the glory, there has been many personal sacrifices and lessons learned by all parties involved. While I reflect and project upon our infinite room for growth as individuals and as an organization, the humbling reward of facilitating the realization of a young lady’s dream of representing our jewel at Miss Universe has been my motivation and inspiration throughout this entire journey.
Since the coronation of our first queen Annlyn Apolonio in 2010, I have witnessed the metamorphosis of our delegates as they learn to confidently express themselves while expanding their academic and professional horizons. Their experiences have helped them to form lifelong friendships and collectively represent Belizean women as glamorous icons of grace. Several of our finalists have become household names and familiar faces on local billboards and television. Others have become school teachers, nurses, professional bankers and counselors--all while maintaining that special element of beauty that resonates in all aspects of their lives. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment.
Opal Enriquez with Rebecca Rath during coronation at Miss Belize Pageant
After careful consideration and the resolve that the dream we envisioned for Belize to return to Miss Universe has been realized, I have decided to take some time to pursue my personal goals. I have accepted another position whereby my passion and talent for helping people achieve their dreams will continue to flourish. We will not be holding a 2017 Miss Belize Pageant. It is my understanding that several parties have applied for the 2017 Miss Universe Franchise and to date none has been confirmed.
As aforementioned there will no commencement of a 2017 Miss Belize Pageant. Effective immediately, the official title of Miss Belize 2017 and all affiliated duties as the reigning Miss Belize will pass to our 2016 first runner- up, Marcia Moody of San Ignacio in the Cayo District. Marcia will represent Belize in the 2017 Miss International Pageant in Japan later this year. We would like to thank Rebecca Rath for being an outstanding beauty ambassador as our Miss Belize 2016 winner.
Rebecca Rath with Marcia Moody
I would like to thank my partners Orson Elrington and Reynaldo Malik for their time, enthusiasm and expertise in making the project a reality. A special thank you to Mr. Gregory Vernon, Ms. Karen Vernon, Ms. Holly Edgell, Ms. Diane Haylock, Mrs. Karen Bevans, Mrs. Melanie Nicholson, Ms. Lara Goldman, Ms. Karen Pike and Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow for your unwavering encouragement and much needed guidance.
Thank you to my family and friends Ernie Alpuche, Dale McDougall, Jackie Castillo, Clive Myers, Georgia Joseph, Richard Holder, Sherima Guity, Tanya Carter, Vanessa Grant, Pietra Arana MD, Brian Fan and Ryan Walker: There are no words to describe your sweetness and dedication. Your laughter, talent and support was always enough to illuminate every occasion. To Hon. Patrick Faber, Hon Roland P. Yorke and Music Ambassador Mr. Shyne Barrow I humbly thank you for your generosity and your belief in our cause. It is because of you that I understand that we must above all serve our country with pride in any capacity that facilitates good will. I assure you that I shall continue to do so to the best of my ability.
Thank you to Mr. Fred Dixon for Mars Caribbean Garden Restaurant, Ms. Lorna Smith for Little Belize Restaurant, Radio Belize Mix, True Belizean Channel, Office of the Consulate General in Los Angeles, Photographers Clyde Gillett, Louis Reyes, and Mario Vera.
Thank you to all sponsors of Queen of the Jewel- Miss Belize Universe including NICH, Bowen and Bowen the BTB, The Belize Bank, the Ministry of Education, Pink Boutique, Pelican Beach Resort, Great Belize Television- Channel 5, Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza, Café Michelle, Char Loves Swimwear, Maruba Resort Jungle Spa, McNab Visual Strategies, Midas Resort, Ka’ ana Resort, and Music Ambassador Shyne Barrow.
1. From 2006 to 2008 Opal Enriquez was hired as a choreographer for Pageants Belize Organization which was under the direction of Margaret Johnson. Despite the fact that she was never compensated, Ms. Enriquez continued to work as a volunteer in order to assist in giving young ladies of Belize an opportunity to better present themselves on the world stage. Since then several winners have trained and resided as guests in her Los Angeles home along their journey to represent Belize abroad.
2. The scholarships for every crowned Queen of the Jewel are provided by the Ministry of Education and available on demand when proof of acceptance and enrollment are made available by the winner. Scholarships are funded directly to said institution. Former queens, Annlyn Apolonio and Destinee Arnold, have received their scholarships in full and other prizes.
3. Despite sponsorship agreement for payment of entire entrance fee, no funds for entrance fee were paid to Miss Universe or Opal Enriquez by Insukba Lyons at any time. Mr. Lyons made several phone calls and promises but ultimately he made no payment.
4. Cinematographers/Photographers William Byrd and Krystina Byrd have demanded payment from sponsor Insukba Lyons and Sibs International for footage and labor on the Miss Belize Universe Project. Unfortunately, footage will not be released by the Byrd brothers until Mr. Lyons has made payment to them in full. No mention of Queen of the Jewel, Opal Enriquez, or any partner of Belize was made in any lawsuit.
5. Accommodations at the Golden Phoenix Hotel, ground transportation and meals in Manila for National Director, Opal Enriquez, were sponsored by photographer Brian Fan ($82.00/nt). Mr. Fan accompanied Ms. Enriquez to Manila and photographed Rebecca during competition.
6. Manila, January 25th : All delegates were released to meet with their directors and families by order of the Miss Universe Organization. Through messenger and email communication, Rebecca was informed that Ms. Enriquez was waiting for her in the hotel lobby. While other delegates came to excitedly greet their respective directors, Rebecca refused to see Enriquez. She then suggested that they could possibly meet after dinner and proceed to go directly to her parents. Other directors took notice of this and began asking questions. For purpose of presentation and not to undermine the ten years of hard work it took for Belize to return to the MU arena, Enriquez brushed off comments and deferred attention from Rebecca by asking for pointers on how to deal with parents. Several spoke of their own parental stories, solicited great advice and hence the energy changed from questioning to light and positive. There were no judges present. For the remaining days leading up to the competition, Rebecca proceeded to seek advice from Ms. Enriquez via messenger and she refused to meet with her in person on several rehearsal breaks while other delegates met with their directors.
7. As confirmed by the Miss Universe Organization, placement in the finals is solely based on delegate performance in scored categories. Contestant scores are never released at the close of the pageant and there is was no numerical placement beyond top thirteen in the 2016 pageants despite reports from bloggers.
8. National gifts for the contestants were sponsored by BTB, NICH and the Music Ambassador. Rebecca transported the CD of Belizean music to Los Angeles, while Ms. Enriquez had in her possession, the other items provided by BTB. All parties were aware that it would take a few days to burn and package 100 Cd’s. However, the bag of gifts was present in Rebecca’s luggage at the Los Angeles Airport prior to her departure to Manila. After insisting that Philippine Airlines refused to check the bag because it was too soft, Therese Rath returned the bag of gifts to Opal Enriquez but retained the $400.00 USD (proceeds from Los Angeles fund raiser) she received from Ms. Enriquez. Ms. Enriquez later arrived in Manila with the cloth bag of gifts for the delegates as a checked bag. Shortly thereafter Rebecca was contacted to distribute the gifts to the delegates. She politely declined to pass out said gifts and stated that she would be passing out the books of photos from her father.
9. Artist Alex Sanker was commissioned by NICH to create a painting to be submitted as the National Gift from Belize. The gift was personally delivered to Rebecca at the Philip Goldson Airport by Mr. Sanker. The Miss Universe Organization received the description of the painting two weeks prior and agreed that it met the requirements of an appropriate national gift. Shortly after Rebecca’s departure to Manila, Therese Rath reported to Ms. Enriquez (via email) that the painting by Alex Sanker was lost in Texas seven days before their arrival in Los Angeles. To resolve the issue Ms. Enriquez suggested the use of another Alex Sanker painting. Therese refused and then informed us about the Pen Cayetano painting, which they had in their possession for the first time.
10. Opal Enriquez was not contacted by the Raths or the promoter whose initiative it was to purchase a car for Rebecca via public funds. She reached out to Rebecca to initiate a discussion. While she agree that a new car is a prize fit for a queen, she was not in favor of the public being asked to donate personal funds to a cause that was not affiliated with a charity or pursuant of an academic goal. She continued by saying that if the auto dealer wished to provide an annual gift for the winner of the pageant in exchange for promotion that would be viable. Otherwise, anything other than the purchase of a ticket to a pageant event, is too much to solicit from the public. “Our job as pageant organizers, is to enhance and entertain, not to drain”. Ms. Enriquez states that she was not aware of any loans being affiliated with this matter and if that were the case, she would have advised differently.
11. Proceeds from the Go Fund Me Account were used to pay for and transport the feathers and materials needed for the Scarlett Macaw costume worn by Miss Belize at the Miss Universe Pageant. Proceeds were also used to replace a crown that was broken while in the queen’s possession. No funds were misappropriated from this account. The total amount collected was $2460 USD
• Two orders of feathers for Scarlett Macaw costume - $ $1450.00 USD
• Beads purchased for Scarlet Macaw costume $150.00 USD
• Cash given to Rebecca Rath for wardrobe $780.00 USD
• Processing fees deducted by go fund me $221.00 USD
• Replacement crown for Rebecca Rath $195.00 USD
12. As clearly stated, wardrobe prize is based on value and not cost. Rebecca’s evening gown has a retail value of $4000.00 USD. This price was negotiated down to $1000.00 USD by Enriquez. Larissa Manor agreed that the balance would be sponsored by Shimmer Boutique. Fernando Wong and Shimmer Boutique received much international exposure for their sponsorship.
Breakdown of wardrobe and other prizes presented to the winner of the Miss Belize Universe Pageant 2016 are as follows:
• Evening gown $8000.00 BZD
• Eight-piece cocktail wardrobe provided by RH Creation for Queen of the
• Gift certificate from Pink Boutique $ 500.00 BZD
• Custom hair extensions $600.00 BZD
• Dress silk pants and top from National Director $160.00 BZD
• 1 IPad provided by Cellular World
• 1 IPhone provided by Cellular World
• Vacation Package to Maruba Resort provided by Maruba Resort
• Vacation Package to the Victoria House provided by BTB
• Scholarship for $25000.00 USD provided by Ministry of Education.
• Complimentary national travel throughout Belize provided by
Music Ambassador, Shyne Barrow via Maya Island Air
Statement by Rebecca Rath, Miss Universe 2016-2017
Statement by National Institute of Culture & History