Colombia’s Miss Universe declines invitation to meet with FARC rebels

Upon her return to her home country, Colombia’s Miss Universe says she will not meet with FARC rebels and will leave the peace process with the Marxist group to the government and president Juan Manuel Santos.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (APRIL 28, 2015) (GOVERNMENT TV) – Miss Universe returned to her home country of Colombia on Monday (April 27) for the first time since winning the coveted crown and weighed in on Colombia’s ongoing peace process with the the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

On Tuesday (April 28) the 22-year-old pageant winner, Paulina Vega, met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and First Lady Maria Clemencia Rodriguez in Bogota.

During a news conference following their meeting Santos said Colombia should dream of peace the same way Vega dreamed of being crowned Miss Universe.

“We, just like Paulina (Vega) had the dream to be Miss Universe and she achieved it; everyone should have important dreams in their lives, important goals. We as a country also have a lot of dreams and we want to see them become realities. Of course, the dream of peace,” Santos said.

Santos’ government has been in peace talks with the the FARC for nearly two and a half years.

The president has pushed repeatedly for a rapid conclusion to the talks with the rebel group which has waged a Marxist-inspired insurgency in the country for more than 50 years.

The conflict has killed some 220,000 people and displaced millions.

Vega, who studies business and is from Barranquilla, Colombia became the second Colombian to be crowned Miss Universe when she beat out 87 other contestants from around the globe at the Miss Universe contest in Florida on January 25.

Upon arriving to the country she said she represents more than just a beauty queen to Colombian and Latina women.

“It’s an honour, not just to represent Colombia, but all Latina women; women of today. I think times have changed and it’s time to leave behind this period of the “false queen” that everyone bows to and this need to always show a perfection that does not exist and is impossible to meet. So, it isn’t just representing the beauty of Colombian women, but also our personality, our desire to do so many things in our lives, our strength,” Vega said.

Vega said she had declined an invitation by the FARC to attend peace negotiations with the government in Havana because she did not think her participation would have been helpful to the peace process.

“I didn’t end up meeting with the FARC because I think that if I would have been able to help, I would have gone. But just by talking to them and for them to tell me how things are going; I don’t think it would have been really significant to the (peace) process. So, I think we made the wiser choice which was to leave it to the government and the president and not to me,” Vega said.

The FARC had formally invited the pageant winner to the talks via a letter.

Vega is also expected to visit her home city of Barranquilla as well as the Caribbean city of Cartagena during her stop in her home country.