Maritza Sayalero

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Maritza Sayalero
Maritza Sayalero Fernández

(1961-02-16) February 16, 1961 (age 58)
Residence Ensenada, Mexico
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Title Miss Venezuela 1979
Miss Universe 1979
Beauty pageant titleholder
Hair color Light brown
Eye color Hazel
Miss Venezuela 1979
Miss Universe 1979

Maritza Sayalero Fernández (born February 16, 1961 in Caracas) is a Venezuelan designer, model, businesswoman and beauty queen. In 1979 She was crowned both Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe, the first woman from Venezuela to win this title. She is married to Mexican tennis player Raúl Ramírez, with whom she has lived in Mexico since 1981. For years she had a boutique where she sold items of her own design.

Caracas Capital City in Capital District, Venezuela

Caracas, officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and centre of the Greater Caracas Area. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 1,140 m above sea level, although there is some settlement above this range. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high (7,200 ft) mountain range, Cerro El Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains. The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 4,923,201.

Miss Venezuela national beauty pageant of Venezuela

Miss Venezuela is a national beauty pageant in Venezuela. The pageant is traditionally held in September, preceded by two or three months of preliminary events, including the awarding of corporate prizes. The final competition telecast generally lasts about four hours and is broadcast live across Latin America by Venevisión and produced by the networks parent company Cisneros Group, with edited versions to the United States and Mexico on the Univision and Telemundo networks. From 2013 to 2015, the national contest was split into two separate pageants: Miss Venezuela and Miss Venezuela Mundo.

Miss Universe annual international beauty contest

Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by the American-based Miss Universe Organization. It airs in more than 190 countries worldwide and seen by more than half a billion people annually. Along with Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth, Miss Universe is one of the Big Four international beauty pageants.


Miss Venezuela

Sayalero competed in 1979 as Miss Departamento Vargas in her country's national beauty pageant, Miss Venezuela. She won the crown and the right to represent her country in the Miss Universe 1979 pageant.

Vargas (state) State of Venezuela

Vargas State is one of the 23 states of Venezuela. Named after Venezuela's first non-military president, José María Vargas, Vargas comprises a coastal region in the north of Venezuela, bordering Aragua to the west, Miranda to the east, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Capital District to the south. It is home to both the country's largest seaport and airport. The state capital is La Guaira. The Litoral Varguense conurbation is the principal urban agglomeration in the state, which is part of the Greater Caracas Area.

Miss Venezuela 1979 was the 26th edition of Miss Venezuela pageant held at Caracas Hilton Hotel in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 16, 1979, after weeks of events. The winner of the pageant was Maritza Sayalero, Miss Departamento Vargas.

Miss Universe 1979 28th Miss Universe pageant

Miss Universe 1979, the 28th Miss Universe pageant, was held on 20 July 1979 at the Perth Entertainment Centre in Perth, Australia. Maritza Sayalero of Venezuela was crowned by Margaret Gardiner of South Africa. This is the first time Venezuela won the pageant.

Miss Universe

Sayalero showed enough of her legendary poise to become the indisputable leader of the night, winning the swimsuit, interview and evening gown competitions at the pageant held in Perth, Australia on July 19. She was the first titleholder from Venezuela.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Venezuela Republic in northern South America

Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas. It has a territorial extension of 916,445 km2. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. With this last country, the Venezuelan government maintains a claim for Guayana Esequiba over an area of 159,542 km2. For its maritime areas, it exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km2 of territorial waters, 22,224 km2 in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km2 of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, and 99,889 km2 of continental shelf. This marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has extremely high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species. There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.

Immediately after the live telecast ended, the stage collapsed, as too many journalists and photographers had stormed on to get a photograph of the new queen. She managed to save a contestant (Miss Colombia) from falling into the gaping hole left in the middle of the set. Other delegates, including Miss Turkey and Miss Brazil, fell through the hole and were injured.


Her victory began a national interest in beauty in Venezuela. Her name has become synonymous with beauty among Spanish language speakers, not only in Venezuela. Following her victory, in the 1980s, many parents named their daughters Maritza after her, especially if they shared the common family surname of Fernandez.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

At least one ship was named in her honour, Maritza Sayalero.

Life after Miss Universe

Maritza Sayalero is married to Mexican tennis player Raúl Ramírez and became a naturalized citizen of Mexico. The couple has three children: Rebeca (born 1982), Raúl Alán (born 1984) and Daniel Francisco (1989).

Raúl Ramírez Mexican tennis player

Raúl Ramírez is a retired Mexican professional tennis player. He was active during the 1970s and 1980s. Ramírez was the first player to finish first in both singles and doubles Grand Prix point standings, accomplishing the feat in 1976. He attended and played tennis at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Sayalero and her family live in Ensenada, Baja California. For years she owned a boutique there where she sold her own designs.

Ensenada, Baja California City in Baja California, Mexico

Ensenada is a coastal city in Mexico, the third-largest in Baja California. Lying 125 kilometres (78 mi) south of San Diego on the Baja California Peninsula, it is locally referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacífico, "The Cinderella of the Pacific."

Baja California Federal entity in Mexico

Baja California, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1952, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, north of the 28th parallel, plus oceanic Guadalupe Island. The mainland portion of the state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. state of Arizona, and the Gulf of California, and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of California.

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Margaret Gardiner
Miss Universe
Succeeded by
Flag of the United States.svg Shawn Weatherly
Preceded by
Marisol Alfonzo
Miss Venezuela
Succeeded by
Maye Brandt

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