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Backlash Forces Miss Nicaragua Owner’s Resignation Post-Victory

On Tuesday, the Miss Universe Organization said it accepted the resignation of its Nicaraguan franchise owner, businesswoman Karen Celebertti, who was not allowed to return to the country and was accused of “conspiracy” after Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios’ victory in the pageant.

Palacios’ win, the first for a Central American in the global beauty contest, sparked massive celebrations in the streets by Nicaraguans, the likes of which had not been seen since public demonstrations were banned in 2018.

“This week we accepted the resignation of Karen Celebertti, national director of Miss Universe Nicaragua. We thank her for her exemplary work with our organization over the last 23 years,” the Miss Universe Organization said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Celebertti announced Monday night from Mexico her withdrawal, after she was denied entry to Nicaragua following the pageant, held in El Salvador on November 18th. Days later, police accused her of “conspiracy,” “treason,” “money laundering” and other charges.

In addition, her husband Martín Argüello and her son Bernardo Argüello Celebertti were detained in Managua. Celebertti “has asked her followers to highlight Nicaragua’s first international triumph as an achievement free of politics and regional distinctions, which should be celebrated by the whole country and world,” the organization said.

“We agree: Sheynnis Palacios is an extraordinary woman, and we are delighted to call her our Miss Universe 2023,” it added. “Looking ahead, we seek a peaceful resolution to the issues raised by the country of Nicaragua, as well as the safety of all those associated with the organization,” it said.

It also expressed hope that Nicaragua “will continue to unite and support Sheynnis and Karen in their struggle for a future forged by and for women and to celebrate the beautiful culture and people of Nicaragua.”

Images circulating on social media showed Sheynnis Palacios at demonstrations against the government in 2018. Clashes between opponents and officials that year left more than 300 dead, according to the UN. Days after Palacios was crowned Miss Universe, Vice President and Ortega’s wife, Rosario Murillo, stated that the opposition was manipulating her victory.

“We see the vulgar and clumsy exploitation, and the crude and evil terrorist communication, which seeks to turn a beautiful and deserved moment of pride and celebration into destructive coup-mongering,” the vice president told pro-government media.

On November 25th, the Miss Universe Organization called on Nicaragua’s government to “guarantee” the safety of its local pageant affiliates.

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