Nuevo Culture

WATCH: Miss Dominican Republic Responds to Critics for Not Being Fluent in Spanish

Miss Dominican Republic, Mariana Downing, has responded to the criticism over the fact that she doesn’t speak fluent Spanish. She also defended her Dominican identity, despite the fact that she wasn’t born in the Dominican Republic. 

Downing, who was crowned Miss Dominican Republic and is widely regarded as one of the favorites for the Miss Universe crown, made it clear in an interview with Al Rojo Vivo that she is as much Dominican as anyone else, regardless of language.

“The language I’m comfortable in is English, and when I talk, I want to do so in an intelligent way,” Downing said in Spanish, as she explained why she responded to the judges’ question during the Miss Dominican Republic gala in English. 

But Downing didn’t stop there, also adding that she could be representing the UK or the US – her father is British and she was born in the United States but she “chose to be here and represent the Dominican Republic.” That choice matters to her.

Downing also responded to the criticisms during a press conference. Speaking entirely in Spanish, she promised to study the language before the Miss Universe pageant. The event itself is set to take place on November 18, 2023, in El Salvador. 

But regardless of that promise, Downing made it clear that she is Dominican during her Al Rojo Vivo interview. “I feel it in my roots,” Downing said, “Kids of Dominican immigrants who left the country to look for a better quality of life also have a right to represent the [Dominican Republic].”

Ultimately, a language that Latin American countries got from Spanish colonizers doesn’t make us more or less Latina. If Mariana Downing identifies as Dominican and is eager to represent her country, that should be enough for us to celebrate her as what she is, a proud Dominican woman.