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3 Dec, 2023 14:39

Miss Nicaragua official accused of alleged ‘beauty queen coup’ plot

Sheynnis Palacios, who attended protests in 2018, was crowned last month as the first-ever Nicaraguan winner of Miss Universe
Miss Nicaragua official accused of alleged ‘beauty queen coup’ plot

The director of the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant is facing conspiracy charges after being accused by authorities in the Central American country of intentionally rigging an event in favor of an anti-government activist, in what is claimed to have been part of a plot to overthrow the government.

Nicaragua’s National Police said in a statement on Friday that the pageant’s director, Karen Celebertti, had engaged in a conspiracy by ensuring that a government critic won and advanced to the Miss Universe competition.

The reigning Miss Nicaragua, Sheynnis Palacios, was last month crowned Miss Universe in the 72nd annual event, this time held in El Salvador. The 23-year-old defeated 83 other beauty queens to claim the crown after she triumphed in a series of events including in-depth interviews, as well as evening gown and swimwear modelling. 

Palacios – the first-ever Nicaraguan to claim the title – was hailed by the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, for bringing “legitimate joy and pride” to the nation. However, it later emerged that Palacios had previously posted photos of herself to social media participating in anti-government protests in 2018.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a US-funded human rights organization, blamed President Ortega for cracking down on the protests – which Ortega had claimed was part of an attempted coup.

According to national authorities, Celebertti had ensured Palacios’ crowning as Miss Nicaragua to “turn pageants into political traps and political ambushes.” Celebertti was also accused of previously “participating actively, on the internet and in the streets in the terrorist actions of a failed coup.”

Police added that Celebertti, along with her husband and son, face charges of “treason to the motherland.” Authorities also said that the pageant’s organizers had attempted to arrange further anti-government protests.

Palacios, who now resides in New York, has not yet commented on the situation. Celebertti has been barred from re-entering Nicaragua, Reuters said, where her husband and son are currently detained.