Velásquez was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, the fifth of six children. Her father is mestizo and her mother a member of the indigenous Wayuu people. Her parents were both teachers; her father also worked for UNESCO and was assigned to other countries. Velásquez grew up with her family in France and Mexico. She attended San Vicente de Paul High School, graduating in 1987. In 1989, she participated in the Miss Venezuela 1989 contest.
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