Ms. Belize Universe 2016-2017, Rebecca Rath, issued a press release this morning responding to the recent press release by the Queen of the Jewel Organization and NICH. Rath states that she became aware that she had been dethroned through local news reports and notes that the press release did not indicate any reason why.

See the release in full below:

May 28th, 2017
Statement by: Rebecca Rath

Like many Belizeans I learned via the local news on May 26th'that my position as Miss Belize Universe 2016-2017 had ended "effective immediately" after 8 months. Though no reason was given, the public release was on the letterhead of Queen of the Jewel Ltd and the National Institute of Culture and History. This indicates a corporate decision of Queen of the Jewel Ltd. (Orson Elrington, Rene Malik and Opal Enriquez) in cooperation with representation from the Government of Belize via its Statutory Body the National Institute of Culture (Director Greg Vernon and Karen Vernon of the Institute of Creative Arts).

Representing Belize at Miss Universe and meeting thousands of Belizeans on the visits !have been making to schools and organizations throughout Belize has been the highlight of my twenty three years as a Dangriga born Belizean working in sports and in our tourism industry. Words cannot express the pride I felt at the recognition that Belize received on the world stage through our collective effort I will forever carry in sty heart the kindness, love and support from family, friends, and supporters throughout Belize and abroad that made our successes possible. Among other experiences. that National Assembly of Belize mention will be a story for my grandchildren!

Being your Miss Belize has been a life-changing experience. In addition to boosting my skills and confidence, I learnt that participating in a beauty pageant is no different than getting through life itself. There are successes and failures, beautiful times and challenging times. Taken all together this experience has become a powerful reminder for me that it is important to stand up for your beliefs, to work hard for what you want and to never let anyone's dishonesty or pretensions kill your spirit or dampen your enthusiasm to achieve your goals and to do good things.

The number of kind and positive people I have met WAY, and BY FAR, exceeded the number of people who are not. To those positive people who made this journey possible I have said lots of thank you's publicly and in person during the past few months. Just one more time -Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I am not going anywhere. Today and tomorrow, like every day. I will continue to work at iv' job, on myself and on the issues in Belize that matter to me. As always I will gladly visit, assist and support individuals, schools and organizations in Belize in any way that I can. Someone's whose counsel and friendship I value very much said it best "Now is not the time to mope or hide. Our collective conscience is clear."

Thank you for the honor of being your Miss Belize Universe 2016-2017.
With much love now and always - Rebecca Rath.