Colombians protested the new face of the Cali Exposhow, saying the international fashion event should showcase a regional beauty, El Pais newspaper reported Friday.

Cali Exposhow promoters selected bicultural supermodel Diana Hare to be the public face for the 2012 international fashion, heath and beauty festival, to be held over four days in the country’s third largest city.

Hare was born in the United States to an American father and a Colombian mother. According to Hare’s facebook page, she began her modeling career at the age of 16 in Bogota posing for the fashion industry’s top designers.

Hare, who currently lives in Houston, Texas, is one of the Andean nation’s most famous models, but Colombians have protested her selection through social media channels, saying the Exposhow should promote local models.

“The implication is that there isn’t talent here,” Alex Rueda of Eledayl Models Management said in an interview with El Pais. “But the Valley has models with loads of experience, like Jessica Chirino, who could carry an event of this magnitude.”

Others, like designer Andres Otalora, called the controversy absurd. “Diana is a Colombian model who’s been on international catwalks. Sometimes we put too much focus on regionalism in this valley,” he said. “She gives an international flavor to this event, and that’s what we should be aiming for.”

Hare said she was not concerned about the debate surrounding her selection, calling any resentment about the choice “natural.” She added that she was proud and grateful to be part of an event that has featured the work of world-famous designers like Oscar de la Renta and Roberto Cavalli, as well as promoted national talent.

Last year’s show drew 150,000 attendees and $11 million in sales.

Cali Exposhow will run October 16-20 in Cali. For more information, vist the event’s official website.