|Felicita Arzu took the initiative to disassociate herself from the Pageants Belize Organization |
Nine months after Felicita Arzu was crowned Miss World Belize 2008, she has decided to come out publicly and rescind or withdraw herself from Pageants Belize, an organization owned and operated by Margaret Johnson. It is a pressing issue that has been stewing for a while now among Pageants Belize and both past and present beauty ambassadors who say that not only was their trust betrayed, but their image has been tainted.
According to the delegates the problems arose from Pageants Belize’s interest or lack thereof, in its various members and the events that they worked hard to attend, such as the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants. The Sun spoke to Felicita Arzu to find out what had prompted her decision to disassociate herself with the organization and what her plans are in terms of retaining her image and fighting for what she believes was an injustice.
In a press release issued to the media and printed in The Reporter on the Sunday, May 11th, 2008 edition, Azru claims, “In July 2007, a fashion show was held in Orange Walk Town. The show was a fundraiser in order to prepare myself for the Miss World pageant in Sanya, China later that year. Over $2,000 was raised and given to Ms. Margaret Johnson immediately after the event. Although some of the money was used to pay a few models. A major part of the balance was intended to pay expenses that were incurred for the fundraiser. Unfortunately, Pageants Belize Limited did not pay any of these outstanding bills here in Orange Walk and as a result, I was summoned to appear in court on Thursday, March 13th, 2008 to answer for claims made a business owner here.” It went on to say, “[…] It is just one more occurrence that I will add to the list of injustices I have had to withstand from Johnson and Pageants Belize. […] I am hurt, upset, distressed and fearful for the future of pageants (Miss Belize), in our country so long as Ms. Johnson is involved. I also take the opportunity to inform the public that I am no longer associated with Pageants Belize Limited and Margaret Johnson,” ended the release.
According to Felicita there have been countless occasions where she has attempted to contact Johnson through telephone calls, via email correspondences and has requested to a meeting to address the pressing issues. She stated that all attempts at communication have been futile, hence the reason she felt that she needed to resort to the media and make her plight public. “I’m not trying to make her look bad, I just think we need to fix this injustice that has been taking place. I would want a full investigation into Pageants Belize and Margaret Johnson. I cannot stand to be a part of an organization that, to me, doesn’t treat women fairly. I felt that if I remain a part of Pageants Belize I would be condoning what they were doing and I don’t believe in that,” explained Felicita.
On May 14th, 2008, Margaret Johnson issued a press release stating that Felicita had abandoned and breached her contracts and obligations with Pageants Belize which were valid until the night a new Miss Belize was chosen. The release went on to say, “in light of Arzu’s recent statements and many misleading allegations made against the company, it [Pageants Belize] concurs with her [Felicita’s] wishes not to be associated with the organization. Therefore, effective immediately, she has been disqualified as Miss Belize World 2007 and is no longer associated with Pageants Belize Limited.” The release continued by stating that Felicita no longer has the right to use any of the following titles: Miss Belize World 2007, Miss World Belize 2007, Miss Belize 2007 or any of the intellectual properties or commercial rights of Pageants Belize Limited and/or the Miss World Organization.
When asked what her reaction was to Pageant Belize’s release, Felicita commented, “Well I was the one that withdrew my crown from Pageants Belize. What I do have a problem with is her saying that I cannot use that name any more because four judges selected me as Miss Belize World, because they believed that I was the fittest person for that title. So, I don’t think she has the right to tell me that I can’t use it because she didn’t give it to me, I earned it.”
The Sun placed several calls to get a comment from Johnson but they all proved futile. However, a recording on Johnson’s cell phone states that at the moment she has nothing more to say to the media and that all calls need to be placed to her attorney. The recording does not state who Johnson’s attorney is. On the other hand, Felicita claims that she won’t stop until she gets justice, justice of having Margaret Johnson step down from her position at Pageants Belize. At the very least, Felicita states that she would be content with Johnson, by her own will or by force from the court, pays the outstanding arrears that she has been summoned to pay.
As far as retaining her image, Felicita being the strong willed and persevering woman that she portrays says she still plans to compete in other pageants and says that with the exposure and experience that she received in the past will help her attain her goal in the international stage. For her final thoughts, Arzu commented that, “Belize has a lot of people that criticize us saying that we can’t win in the international scene. We have plenty women who have the talent and ambition to reach that level. Let me tell them that we can and WILL get to the international stage once we get the right people to work behind us.”