Twenty-year-old Maria Susana Flores Gamez was found dead on Saturday night, with an assault rifle near her body. According to the AP:
"She was with the gang of criminals, but we cannot say whether she participated in the shootout," state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera said. "That's what we're going to have to investigate."
AP writer E. Eduardo Castillo points out that Gamez's death is "at least the third instance in which a beauty queen or pageant contestants have been linked to Mexico's violent drug gangs, a theme so common it was the subject of a critically acclaimed 2011 movie."
The film, Miss Bala, (translation: Miss Bullet) in which an aspiring beauty queen gets unwillingly involved in organized crime, happens to be Mexico's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of this year's Academy Awards. Javier Valdez, who wrote a book about the ties between drug lords and beauty pageants entitled Miss Narco tells Castillo "this is a recurrent story."
In this country, often beauty pageants are seen as frivolous buffoonery, a display of conspicuous consumption and vanity. For Gamez, it may have been a glimmer of hope in what some describe as a "climate of fear" in Mexico. Winning a state beauty contest means competing for Miss Mexico, which means representing the country in the international Miss Universe pageant, and possibly more. But as Valdez explains, things do not always go well:
"There is a relationship, sometimes pleasant and sometimes tragic, between organized crime and the beauty queens, the pageants, the beauty industry itself," Valdez said.
"It is a question of privilege, power, money, but also a question of need," said Valdez. "For a lot of these young women, it is easy to get involved with organized crime, in a country that doesn't offer many opportunities for young people."
Susana Flores Gamez Dead: Mexico Beauty Queen Killed In Shootout [HuffPo via AP]