Miss Nicaragua pageant director retires after 'treason' and 'conspiracy' accusations

By Isaac M December 12, 2023

The director of the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant is stepping down nine days after she was accused of “conspiracy” and “treason” by the police.

“The time has come for my retirement,” Karen Celebertti wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “I know that there will always be more opportunities for us.”

It was her first public statement since the scandal following the coronation of Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios as Miss Universe on 18 November in El Salvador.

Ms Celebertti had been accused of rigging beauty events so that contestants with anti-government views won.

But the businesswoman said she had worked for 23 years “with zeal and effort” until Nicaragua won the Miss Universe beauty crown this year, which she described “as an achievement for everyone” and “for every Nicaraguan, without political distinction”.

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios reacts after being crowned Miss Universe during the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in San Salvador, El Salvador November 18, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
Sheynnis Palacios. Pic: AP

Why is Nicaragua’s president not happy about Miss Universe win?

Ms Palacios’ surprise victory in the contest sparked joyous demonstrations in the streets of Nicaragua, which President Daniel Ortega’s government criticised.

Some of those celebrating the win carried the blue and white national flag rather than the president’s red and black Sandinista banner, which was met with anger from his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo.

It also emerged Ms Palacios had posted photos of herself on Facebook participating in one of the mass anti-government protests in the country in 2018.

At the time, the demonstrations were violently repressed – with Mr Ortega claiming he was forced to act to stop an attempted coup with foreign backing.

His opponents argued Nicaraguans were protesting against his increasingly repressive rule and a seemingly endless urge to remain in power.

At least 355 people were killed by government forces, human rights groups say.

Read more from Sky News:
Five dead after lift plummets 20m at construction site

Zara ‘regrets misunderstanding’ as it pulls advert
Navalny aide says disappearance down to ‘Kremlin control’

FILE - Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, lead a rally in Managua, Nicaragua, Sept. 6, 2018. The U.S. State Department called Nicaragua...s formal withdrawal from the Organization of American States on Sunday, Nov. 19, ...another step away from democracy....  The regional body, known by its initials OAS, has long criticized rights violations under Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Ortega, who governs alongside his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, has rejected those criticisms and started the two-year process to leave the OAS in November 2021. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga, File)
Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and his wife Vice President Rosario Murillo. Pic: AP

‘Organised crime’ accusations

Ms Celebertti and her daughter Luciana were prevented from entering the country by immigration authorities on 22 November after they attended Ms Palacios’ coronation as Miss Universe and accompanied her on a short trip to Mexico.

It was later announced police had raided Ms Celebertti’s home in the southwest of the capital Managua and arrested her husband, Martin Arguello, and their son Bernardo.

Without confirming the arrest the authorities accused the three members of the Arguello Celebertti family on 2 December of the crimes of treason, conspiracy and “organised crime”.

A statement by the National Police claimed Ms Celebertti “participated actively, on the internet and in the streets in the terrorist actions of a failed coup,” in an apparent reference to the 2018 protests.


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *