he coronation of 23-year-old Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios as the first Central American Miss Universe on November 18 was accompanied by joy, euphoria and tears, but also by exile, arrests, accusations of conspiracy, treason, and a power struggle for Miss Nicaragua’s franchise.
From national celebration to prohibition
Conspiracy and treason charges
A day later, the police charged Celebertti, her husband, Martín Argüello, and their son, Bernardo, with conspiracy and treason.
“The detainees and fugitives must serve the sentences established by Nicaraguan law,” said the police, confirming the arrest of the relatives of the director of Miss Nicaragua.
The statement also called them “traitors and stateless persons” and allegedly accused them of committing the crimes of conspiracy to disturb the peace and incitement to hatred, violence, terrorism, organized crime, provocation, apology and inducement to commit crimes through information and communication technologies and the dissemination of fake news, treason and money laundering since 2018.
Power struggle over Miss Nicaragua
In the midst of the exile of the director of Miss Nicaragua and the arrest of her husband and son, the local press recalled that a daughter-in-law of Ortega and Murillo, Xiomara Blandino, criticized Celebertti’s management of the Miss Universe pageant.
“We had a Miss Nicaragua organization that is quite closed, very hermetic, a very selective organization, it does not give the opportunity to many people… they give the opportunity to those who they decide,” she posted on Instagram.
Blandino, who was Miss Nicaragua in 2007, is married to Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, son of the president and first lady, and is the director of Miss Teen Nicaragua.
The feud between her and Celebertti is seen by critics of Ortega’s regime as an attempt by the government to take over the franchise, which they now deem as a platform for criticism.
Controversy over the new Miss Universe began before the pageant, when hosts on a television channel run by Ortega and Murillo’s children mocked the Nicaraguan representative for selling buñuelos, a fried manioc dessert with cottage cheese and honey, to pay for her studies.
“Miss Buñuelos,” one of the presenters said, is called by Sandinista sympathizers on social media “Miss Tranquera” for participating in an anti-government march in 2018.
The young woman in whom Nicaraguans saw themselves reflected is a graduate in social communication from the Jesuit Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, which was closed last August by the authorities, accused of being a “center of terrorism”.
Amid the controversy Palacios still has no return date to Nicaragua
By Usmana Kousar