Cuba wins Miss Grand International 2014

27-year-old pageant veteran Daryanne Lees, 27, was crowned Miss Grand International 2014 at the conclusion of the international contest’s 2nd edition held at the Indoor Stadium Huamark, in Bangkok, Thailand. Daryanne was born in Puerto Rico, where she competed in Miss Puerto Rico Teen, Miss World Puerto Rico and Miss Universe Puerto Rico. Later she moved to Tampa, Florida, where she currently lives and works as a front desk manager, at the Hilton Hotel. She represented Tampa in Miss Floriada USA, but did not win the title. One of her parents is Cuban.

Lees has a degree in Business Administration and has been participating in pageants since the age of 18 (for 9 years). She’s 1.71 m-tall.

Miss Ethiopia, Hiwot Mamo, came in 2nd place, while Miss Canada, Kathryn Kohut, placed 3rd, Miss Australia, Renera Thompson, was 4th, and Miss Colombia, Monica Castaño Agudelo, was 5th.

The representatives of Haiti, Poland, Thailand, Russia and Indonesia stopped in the Top 10.

The Top 20 had the candidates from Mexico, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, Israel, Brazil, Venezuela, Japan and Peru.

The winner receives USD 40,000 in cash and will live in Bangkok, Thailand, for a year. She’s expected to visit over 10 countries to promote Miss Grand’s campaign “Stop The War”.

85 countries and territories, including representatives of Iran and even Kurdistan, took place in the event.

Among the shocking surprises in this year’s contest was the early elimination of favorites such as Russia, Thailand and Poland (Top 10), and Ukraine (Top 20). The other favorite, Colombia, finished in 5th place.

The production, with elements resembling Miss Universe, was once again quite good. There was live You Tube webcasting to the whole planet.

Cuba in international beauty pageants

Cuba sent representatives to Miss Universe and Miss World until it became a communist country, in the early 1960’s. After that, Miss “Free Cuba”, who were Cuban nationals living in the United States, competed in Miss Universe from 1960 to 1967.

Now Cuba only participates in smaller pageants, usually represented by women with some connection to the island (daughter of a Cuban national, for instance), but such representatives are not officially recognized by the nation of Cuba. Organizations located in the US or in Puerto Rico send such contestants abroad.

The new Miss Grand International was born and raised in Puerto Rico and now lives in the United States.