The director of the Miss Nicaragua pageant faces charges for allegedly manipulating pageant results, authorities said Friday.
Karen Celebertti is accused of tampering the pageant outcomes to favor contestants that oppose the government, according to the New York Post. This scheme was allegedly part of a plan to overthrow the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. The scheme gained international attention following Sheynnis Palacio’s victory in the Miss Universe pageant this year.
Palacio’s win was initially celebrated in the country, however, the mood shifted when images surfaced of Palacio participating in the 2018 anti-government protests. The movement resulted in the deaths of 355 individuals, according to human rights groups, per the New York Post.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 3, 2023
The government perceived these protests as a coup attempt with foreign involvement, the New York Post reported. The National Police claim that Celebertti was actively involved in these protests, both online and in person. Reports indicate that Celebertti narrowly evaded arrest and is currently outside Nicaragua, though her son and husband have reportedly been detained. (RELATED: Foreign Government Is Weaponizing Illegal Migrants To Gain Leverage Against The Biden Admin, Experts Say)
Celebertti, her family and other associates are facing charges of “treason to the motherland.” The police statement alleges that Celebertti conspired to use beauty pageants as a front for political sabotage, funded by external agents, the New York Post reported. The celebration of Palacios’s Miss Universe win provided a rare outlet for public joy, with many citizens using the national flag, rather than the government’s Sandinista banner, in their celebrations.
Vice President Rosario Murillo has condemned opposition media and accused them of exploiting Palacios’s victory for anti-government propaganda. Meanwhile, the Ortega government continues its widespread repression, including the closure of numerous universities and civic groups, leading to a significant exodus of Nicaraguans seeking refuge abroad.