Virginia Camacho, secretary of the jail and co-coordinator of the pageant explained “The fact that they made a mistake in their lives doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to be a human being or feel like a woman.”
Many of the women were recruited into paramilitary organizations at an early age, and have never known a life outside of crime.
A representative is elected from each of the nine cellblocks, each made up of between 100 and 250 women.
“Not just anyone can represent their cellblock” said Karina Lopez, representative of Cellblock 9.
The pageant is held every September to honor the patron saint of prisons, the Virgin of Mercedes, and inmates begin to prepare themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally for the contest months in advance.