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Nicaraguan Pageant Director Banned from Country

Nicaraguan authorities have banned the national director of the Miss Universe pageant from returning to the country and raided her home, days after Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios won the crown, media and exiled opposition activists reported on Friday.

Karen Celebertti, organizer of Miss Nicaragua, and her daughter were prevented from entering the country upon their return on Thursday to the Managua airport, after the pageant held last Saturday in San Salvador, and were sent on a flight to Mexico, according to sources.

The government of Daniel Ortega “denied entry to Karen Celebertti, owner of the Miss Nicaragua franchise, and her daughter,” reported the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa’s portal.

Vice President “Rosario Murillo prevents the return to her country of Karen Celebertti, organizer of Miss Nicaragua, who has just achieved, after years of work, that one of them becomes Miss Universe,” said writer Gioconda Belli, exiled in Spain and stripped of her nationality by the government.

Opposition media, operating from Costa Rica, also said that Celebertti’s house on the road between Managua and the city of León was raided this Friday, and her husband, Martín Argüello, was temporarily detained.

The government has not commented on these reports from the media and opposition activists.

The crowning of Palacios, the first Central American to win the Miss Universe pageant, has reignited the political conflict in Nicaragua, as the 23-year-old beauty queen participated in the 2018 protests against Ortega.

Palacios’ victory prompted massive celebrations by Nicaraguans in the streets of Managua and other cities in the country, something not seen since demonstrations were banned in 2018.

This led Vice President Murillo to denounce on Wednesday “the gross exploitation and crude and evil terrorist communication, which seeks to turn a beautiful and deserved moment of pride and celebration into destructive coup-mongering.”

Photos of Palacios raising a Nicaraguan flag five years ago in marches that left more than 300 dead, denounced by Ortega as an attempted coup supported by Washington, are circulating on social networks.

Thousands of Nicaraguans have gone into exile. Last February, the government released 222 imprisoned opponents, whom it expelled from the country, confiscated their property, and stripped them of their nationality.

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