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Critics Are Saying Miss Puerto Rico Should Be Stripped Of Her Crown Because She Doesn’t Know Spanish

The crowning glory of this year’s Miss Puerto Rico was tarnished for 23-year-old Madison Anderson Berríos with the backlash since, unlike previous winners, she wasn’t born or raised on the island. 

Born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Orlando, Florida to a white dad and a Puerto Rican mom, Anderson Berríos doesn’t speak Spanish fluently so the idea of her not being “Latina enough” quickly came up on social media. After her win, #NoMeRepresenta began trending on Twitter and during the telecast, she was booed by the audience when she explained her first language wasn’t Spanish.

“I am representing the new generation of Puerto Ricans who do not need to live in Puerto Rico or speak Spanish. If you were born in the United States, you are not less Puerto Rican,” she said in an interview with El Sentinel Orlando. “These are feelings that you carry anywhere. That’s the new generation of Puerto Ricans,” she added.

But her place of birth wasn’t the only issue she candidly addressed, she was also open about her trouble learning to speak Spanish. 

It was hard, especially when it came to the language, but I’m so happy with the work I’ve done,” Anderson Berríos said during an interview with Pégate al Medio Día for Wapa TV which broadcast the pageant. “Yes, [I practiced] with everyone,” she said. “With my family, people on the street, even when I needed to order [at a restaurant]. Even things that are so easy, I wanted to practice, and it helped me so much.”

The beauty queen told Metro that she plans to continue to study during her reign, practicing every day. 

Her dedication to learning extends to her schoolwork having studied marketing and public relations. She’s passionate about social work and raising awareness about domestic violence having mentored women during a trip to the Caribbean Island of Saint Kitts and Nevis with plans to do the same at Hogar Ruth Puerto Rico, according to Hola!. 

Her poise and push for authenticity come after some practice on the pageant stage.

In 2014, she participated in Miss Teen USA and two years later represented Puerto Rico in Miss Grand International. In January, she was the first runner-up in the Miss Florida USA contest, although she has always identified herself as Puerto Rican, according to  El Sentinel Orlando

Now she’s prepping to represent Puerto Rico in the 68th Miss Universe international contest taking place in December in South Korea.

“It’s my dream. This is not just for my beautiful people of Puerto Rico, but for the diaspora because being Puerto Rican is carried in the blood,” she said in an interview with Wapa TV. And that’s a sentiment that’s just like her Instagram bio reads: #SerBoricuaSeLlevaEnlaSangre 

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