CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
Marcos Pérez Jiménez's dictatorship thrived on with the construction of large infrastructure work throughout the country. Relations with Eisenhower's government were at their best, and Venezuela became the top iron supplier of the US industry. United States supported certain dictatorships, such as Franco's in Spain, in its anticommunist fight. Also, this year marked the fall of Juan Domingo Perón's government in Argentina; the leader would receive asylum in Caracas
Susana Duijm outshined the other 21 contestants and earned the crown of Miss World, paving the way for dozens of Venezuelan women (Photo: Andrés Mata Foundation)
Tall, dark and with delicate features and lively dark eyes, a Caracas office employee landed in London on a hazy autumn day in such anonymity that no one was at the airport to welcome her. Proud of her humble upbringing, three months earlier she had won the crown of Miss Venezuela before a large audience at Tamanaco Hotel. She then took part in the Miss Universe pageant to little acclaim but, with the help of her godmother, Carolina Reverón de Behrens, she mustered up the funds for a plane ticket and flew to London, only to find utter neglect at the airport. Finally, a journalist spotted her and the headline read: Latin Beauty Lost under the London Fog.
From then one, fortune smiled upon the 19-year-old girl whose exotic beauty, radiant smile and slim figure made her the center of attention in the weeks prior to the Miss World pageant.
On the eve of October 20th, the Venezuela bombshell made her tropical presence felt, and her physical attributes so different from those prevailing at the time (buxom beauties) impressed the jury. Susana Duijm outshined the other 21 contestants and earned the crown to become the first Latin American to win an international beauty pageant. Prior to returning, she visited Paris, modeled for Oleg Cassini, was courted by an Arab prince and was acclaimed by the people in the Maiquetía airport. She had won 500 sterling pounds and a silver trophy. Minutes later, the red convertible she had won on the basis of her beauty and grace would arrive in La Guaira.
This was a banner year for Pérez Jiménez's government as it saw the completion of the Pan-American highway, the Vacation City of Los Caracas and the University Hospital, but Venezuela was denounced before the International Labor Organization (ILO) because of its lack of political freedoms. In April, the steel company of Orinoco was organized. In Valencia, 50,000 people were on hand for the funeral of writer José Rafael Pocaterra, and poet Andrés Eloy Blanco died in Mexico. In July, priest Jesús María Velaz founded charity Fe y Alegría, and an explosive was deployed in the vicinity of Rafael Caldera's home.
January witnessed the murder of Panamanian President José Antonio Remón. On April 15th, the first McDonald's opened. In May a practically unknown Elvis Presley embarked on his first tour. In June the Baikonur cosmodrome started operations. On the 16th of that month, the Argentine aviation bombed the Mayo Square, killing 364 people. Three months later, Juan Domingo Perón's government fell. Disneyland opened in July. The USSR launched its hydrogen bomb in October. On December 1st, a black seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger and the civil-rights struggle in the United States began.
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