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Not one but Two Queens of the Bay

The scandal surrounding the coronation of the 72nd Queen of the Bay continues to garner national attention. Over the weekend, the public saw two young women crowned as the 72nd Queen of the Bay, one recognized by the National September Celebrations Commission and the other, after a revision of the scores, was recognized by the National Queen of the Bay Committee. Here’s a look at that moment that was seen by Belizeans live on national television.

The controversy over the rightful winner of the Queen of the Bay pageant held on September second spilled over into the September tenth celebration of the 219 Anniversary of the Saint George’s Caye Day.

What has remained tradition for decades became tainted with scandal as two queens were crowned on stage. The moment was captured on live television as two young women were dragged into what many Belizeans have declared a national embarrassment.

Dr. Candice Pitts, a member of the National Queen of the Bay Committee, was called to do the proclamation but as soon as she called out Cal’s name the crowd stirred and Dr. Pitts and Zenaida Moya were removed from the podium. NEIL Hall of NICH was then called to proclaim the 72nd Queen of the Bay to be Aaliyah Ysaguirre.

But things got more awkward when former QOTB Cristalyn Castillo crowned Ysaguirre. In the background Moya crowned Cal, both on stage. What should have been a moment of merriment and grace for the 72nd queen was interrupted as the police was asked to escort Moya off the stage. By then she had crowned Miss Ca,l who shortly after, stepped off the stage as well.

Zenaida Moya, Chairperson, Queen of the Bay Committee: “It’s only right that history records the rightful winner. This is a prestigious pageant and yes people would say that this is the 72nd year and we wanted it to be beautiful we wanted it to just go smoothly as it is and that is what all of us wanted. All of us wanted it but we were not handed the deck that we would have preferred, we were handed a deck of cards that we had to work with and under the circumstances the committee felt that we could not move forward knowing that the rightful winner would not be crowned and it was said that we have to crown the rightful winner. It doesn’t matter, she has to be crowded. Our conscience has to be clear that the rightful winner was crowned, we can’t go back and say ‘Oh man.’ and every time you look at that poor young lady you hang your head down because you know she is the winner but you didn’t do right. You understand and so that is why it was so important and I know that it did look awkward , some people say messy, whatever word they want to say but in life not everything will look perfect but sometimes you have to stand on principle and you have to know that it’s your conscience that will move on later.”

Dejanira Thompson, the Queen of the Bay Committee Secretary supported Moya today.

Dejanira Thompson, the Queen of the Bay Committee Secretary

“As a committee we could have either just washed our hands and say we won’t even touch that and leave it as is but then we all felt that it would be unfair to Ms.Cal especially if she did not break any of the rules and that is where the committee stood by their decision and they decided that we are going to go by what was legally found.”

And that, according to the women, was found by the judges who were called into a meeting on Friday to revisit their scores after the Committee received a letter from the Orange Walk Queen of the Bay Committee. The judges proceeded to review footage of the performance of both delegates in different segments of the pageant.

Zenaida Moya, Chairperson, Queen of the Bay Committee

“At no point in time your subjective scoring came into question. If it were to have 20 points and you wanted to give someone 20 points that is your free will, five points that is your free will that wasn’t’ the issue at all. None of those scores were looked at or were even called into question, the only thing that was looked at was ‘okay the automatic deduction if in fact an infraction was made. It was only a difference of .54 of a point. Half a point was the difference going into the semifinals and had these and all the judges applied – or took of those automatic deductions it wouldn’t have been a .54 of a point because those points carry over to the final question it would have been an automatic easy ‘Miss Orange Walk is the winner.”

At no time during this process was the Stann Creek Committee contacted.

Dejanira Thompson, the Queen of the Bay Committee Secretary

“She said you don’t know the outcome if it will still be Stann Creek or if it will change so she said just inform them after the formal report from the auditor because we had hired a certified auditor.”

Zenaida Moya, Chairperson, Queen of the Bay Committee

“An independent certified accountant simply so we do not touch anything or deal with that particular matter.”

In a press conference they held on Saturday, the Stann Creek Committee Coordinator Sherima Guity said they were afforded no courtesies.

Sherima Guity, Stann Creek Committee Coordinator

“We were never contacted, we never attended any meetings and I even mentioned that to her when I was speaking to her when she out the phone on me. I told her that if she had the decency to when Orange Walk contacted you and you guys sat down together you could have called me to attend this meeting. I said this is an urgent matter I would have been there.”

After the revision, the National Committee received the report from auditor after 7:30 on Friday night after which they issued a release naming Miss Orange Walk Esmeralda Cal as the 72nd Queen of the Bay