The Miss Universe organization on Saturday asked the Nicaraguan government to “guarantee” the safety of the affiliates of the local contest, whose director, Karen Celebertti, was banned from returning to the country after Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios won the crown.
“We are working to ensure the safety of all the affiliates of the organization, and we call on the Nicaraguan government to guarantee their safety and comply with what is requested,” emphasized a statement given in San Salvador by a spokesperson for the organization.
The government of Daniel Ortega prevented Celebertti, the owner of the Miss Nicaragua franchise, and her daughter from entering the country on Thursday at the Managua airport, as denounced by opponents and the Nicaraguan press in exile in Costa Rica, the United States, and Spain.
Both were sent on a flight to Mexico five days after Palacios became the first Central American to win Miss Universe, in the contest held in San Salvador. Her crowning reignited the political conflict in Nicaragua, as the 23-year-old participated in the 2018 protests against Ortega.
Opposition media also denounced that Celebertti’s house in Managua was raided on Friday, and that her husband, Martín Argüello, was temporarily detained.
The newspaper La Prensa stated that the government “is keeping” Argüello incommunicado and that there is police presence at his parents’ house. The government has not commented on these reports.
“The national director, her family, and the previous holders (of the organization in Nicaragua) are safe,” the statement added.
Palacios’ victory prompted massive celebrations by Nicaraguans in the streets of Managua and other cities of the country, unseen since demonstrations were banned in 2018.
Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife, accused the opposition of “gross exploitation” and of “crude and evil terrorist communication, which seeks to turn a beautiful and deserved moment of pride and celebration into destructive coup-mongering.”
The opposition press also claimed that the government had ordered the airline Avianca “not to board” Palacios when she returned from San Salvador, but, after the victory, canceled the order.
Miss Universe traveled from El Salvador to Miami, Mexico, and New York, where she now has her apartment.