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Cuba returns to Miss Universe after 57 years: Miami to host the first pageant in September

Sissi Fleitas and Alicia Machado among the judges for Miss Universe Cuba

After a nearly six-decade absence, Cuba is rejoining the prestigious Miss Universe competition. The highly anticipated Miss Universe Cuba pageant will take place on September 15th, 2024, in Miami, Florida. Three prominent figures in the entertainment world will join the 20 contestants vying for the coveted crown.

A panel of experienced judges

At a press conference held on June 17th, Prince Julio César, director of Miss Universe Cuba, announced the names of two confirmed judges. Cuban television personality and model Sissi Fleitas will lend her expertise to the selection process.

Joining her is Venezuelan actress and television presenter Alicia Machado, the reigning Miss Universe 1996. The pageant will be broadcast live on Mega TV, a Spanish-language television network based in Miami.

The competition will be hosted by renowned Cuban author, speaker, and presenter Ismael Cala. Leading up to the main event, Mega TV will air two special programs documenting the journeys of the 20 hopefuls competing for the Miss Universe Cuba title.

César, a Venezuelan designer who brought the Miss Universe Cuba franchise to life in April, emphasized that contestants must have a strong connection to the island nation. They must be either Cuban-born or daughters of Cubans with verifiable legal documentation.

For judge Sissi Fleitas, the ideal Miss Universe Cuba embodies more than just stunning looks. Community involvement and a strong civic conscience are equally important qualities.

Sissi Fleitas expressed the desire to find a stunning Cuban woman with exceptional physical beauty. This woman, Fleitas explained, should not only be able to compete effectively with other international contestants but also surpass them. She emphasized Cuba's deserving nature of the crown and highlighted the importance of the chosen representative embodying grace and confidence while representing their nation.

Fleitas on the keys to success

Fleitas, who boasts experience on both sides of the competition stage as a former contestant and judge, emphasized the importance of confidence and preparation.

She emphasized the importance of both preparation and opportunity for achieving success in the pageant. She stated that contestants must be fully prepared to compete on a global stage. However, she also underscored the crucial role of self-belief. Fleitas conveyed the idea that contestants need to possess unwavering confidence in themselves, as this belief is essential in convincing others of their regal potential.

Sissi Fleitas during an interview.

She did not stop there; she continued by expressing her admiration for her fellow judge, Alicia Machado. Fleitas complimented Machado, describing her as an exceptional woman who embodies both beauty and intelligence. She went on to highlight Machado's strong sense of self-assuredness and determination, declaring her a true beauty queen in every sense of the word.

The competition organizers are still finalizing the identity of the third judge and the venue for the pageant. Auditions for Miss Universe Cuba kicked off in May and attracted over 1,000 hopefuls. The selection process narrowed down the initial pool to 100 candidates. Now, the public has the opportunity to play a role in choosing the final 20 contestants. Fans can vote for their favorites through the Miss Universe Cuba social media channels, according to César.

Sissi Fleitas expresses immense excitement about the return of Cuban representatives to the Miss Universe stage after nearly six decades.

She expressed that witnessing Cuban women grace the Miss Universe stage felt like a dream come true. She went on to say that this participation represented a right that Cuban women had always possessed but were unable to exercise until now.

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