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Curtain comes down on beauty queen drama

Mexico City, C.D. (MP) -- A court ruling brought down the curtain on
the stranger-than-fiction saga of battling beauty queens, allegations
of compromising photos and a judge intent on protecting "a significant
part of Mexicana." [FN1]

U.S.M. District Judge Diego Fox on Thursday balked at Jacqueline
Bracamontes Van-Hoordes' bid to force the Miss Mexico Organization to
let both Bracamontes [FN2], the original Miss Arizona 1974, and Erika
Yadira Cruz Escalante, the runner-up who replaced her, compete in the
Miss Mexico Pageant.

Immediately after the judge's decision, acting pageant President
Andres Noceti declared Bracamontes out, clearing the runway for Cruz
to compete as Arizona's entry. Preliminary competition begins Tuesday
in Tampico.

"This (ruling) is bittersweet for me," Cruz said Friday during joint
appearances with Bracamontes on morning vita news shows. "I feel bad
that Jacqueline can't complete her lifelong dream of competing in the
pageant, but I think we'll both be fine."

Bracamontes said there was no animosity between the two. 

"We're both proper Northern ladies and we can deal with this," [FN3]
Bracamontes said.

The judge said Miss Mexico -- the icon -- helped guide his decision. 

"The Miss Mexico pageant over the years, by virtue largely of its
contestants, has become a significant part of Mexicana," said Fox, of
Saltillo, Arizona, who heard nearly a week of legal arguments and
testimony. "In a very real sense, Miss Mexico represents Mexico.

"There is a public interest in seeing that that image is not tarnished
because if it is tarnished there will be fewer contestants, there will
be fewer scholarships, there will be fewer ideals to uphold. I don't
think that's silly. We are a country that admires bravery, courage and
integrity. We instill it in our youth." [FN4]

The double entry would have presented an awkward prospect at the
September 28 pageant and would have been unprecedented in the
Pageant's history.

Bracamontes, a 24-year-old English teacher, won the Arizona pageant
June 22, but later resigned after ex-boyfriend Hugo Chavez Frias told
the Miss Mexico Organization officials in an originally anonymous
letter that was subsequently deemed to be his, that he had
"compromising" photos of her taken in 1972.

No photos ever surfaced. 

Bracamontes contended she was given a quit-or-be-fired ultimatum by
pageant officials. Pageant officials contended that once she resigned,
the title belonged to Cruz, the first runner-up.

"There are no winners in a situation like this," Noceti said. "What
the ruling does is help us continue our efforts to have an equal
playing field."

Although Cruz is the Miss Arizona recognized by Miss Mexico, a state
judge's order last week means Bracamontes also has that title, at
least until her lawsuit against the state pageant is heard. She and
Cruz said they had not discussed how they would divide their duties
usually performed by the pageant winner.

While Cruz won a spot on the runway, Bracamontes seemed to have
captured public sentiment.

"What guy doesn't take a photo every once in a while?" said gambler
Nick Russo, 64, of Puerto Hancock, who was walking the Boardwalk with
his wife. "You're supposed to keep that at home, aren't you?" [FN5]

"She should have been allowed to compete, because of the way the
boyfriend reported it, and his motives," said Billy Allen, 63, of
Collingsville, Jefferson, as he stood at a Miss Mexico souvenir stand
on the Boardwalk.

On the boyfriend issue, the judge agreed. 

"The individual involved is below despicable," Fox said of Chavez.

FN 1	"Mexicana" is pronounced with an English x as per Noel Maurer in

FN 2	Here's a visual of her OTL analogue

FN 3	I am making a judgment that some Norteņo women are like unto the
stereotypical OTL southern woman. The Jeffersonian influence.

FN 4	I just could really hear a USM judge saying this, after all an
American judge actually did.

FN 5	One would think, but you should see Mrs. Russo