Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico TV debate team sorry for skimpy dress 'mistake'

In this screen grab taken from Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute's YouTube channel, Julia Orayen, second from right, carries a box to presidential candidates
Image caption Julia Orayen and her white dress only appeared for 24 seconds of the debate, but some Mexicans thought she stole the show

The organisers of Sunday's televised presidential debate in Mexico have apologised because of the revealing dress worn by one of the production assistants.

The assistant in question is a former glamour model.

She was handing out cards assigning the speaking order to the candidates.

Mexico's Electoral Commission said the woman's tight white dress, with its plunging neckline, had distracted attention from important issues.

"We are sorry about the production error associated with the clothing of one of the assistants during the first presidential debate and want to apologise to the citizens and the candidates for the presidency," a statement released by the Commission said.

'Outrageous stereotype'

The Commission said an independent production firm had hired the model, Julia Orayen.

TV producer Jesus Tapia said he had settled for Ms Orayen because she was considerably shorter than the two other women who had applied for the job.

"Given the [short] stature of the candidates I chose her," he said.

He also said that she was what they had been looking for: "A pleasant, young and fresh presence."

Mr Tapia said the dress had been Ms Orayen's choice, and "in the madness of the moment" it had not been checked.

Josefina Vazquez Mota, who is bidding to become Mexico's first female president, said the assistant's dress was "not in keeping with the seriousness of the debate".

Electoral Commission member Lorenzo Cordova said it was deplorable that a stellar event in the electoral process should have been overshadowed by an "outrageous stereotype".

It was the first TV debate ahead of July's poll pitting the four presidential hopefuls against each other.

A second debate is set for 10 June.

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