Miss Universe, Irene Sáez Conde, Miss Venezuela. July 20, 1981. (Photo by Jerry Engel/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Irene Lailin Sáez Conde is more known worldwide as Miss Universe 1981. But in her country of Venezuela, neighboring South American countries and Latin American communities, she is credited for transforming the beauty queen platform into a growing political career that spanned from 1990 to 2000. Before she ran for public office, she finished a Political Science degree at the Central University of Venezuela and followed it up by becoming the country’s Cultural Representative to the United Nations expanding the international contacts developed into the realm of culture and diplomacy.
Irene as Mayor of Chacao
From 1990-1997, she served as Mayor of Chacao – a wealthy municipality in Caracas.
The former Miss Universe campaigning in the violent ‘barrio Petare’ a district of Caracas during the 1998 Presidential Election in her country. (Photo by John van Hasselt/Sygma via Getty Images)
It was in 1998 when Irene made the move to run for President of Venezuela. She formed her own party, aptly named Integrated Representation of New Hope (IRENE). And while she made a mark all throughout her campaign, she ended the race a distant third with only 2.82% of the votes.
Irene and husband Serafin Garcia
From 1999 to 2000, she was elected Governor of Nueva Esparta and stepped down when she became pregnant with husband Serafin Garcia – denying rumors then that she was pressured by Hugo Chávez to step aside.
Irene is now based in Miami where she has been residing since 2003. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Colonial BancGroup, South Florida region.
Irene welcomed a victorious Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado during the latter’s homecoming. (Photo by Eric VANDEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
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