The director of Miss Nicaragua pageant has been charged by the police for orchestrating a plot to overthrow the beauty queen.

The director of Miss Nicaragua pageant has been charged by the police for orchestrating a plot to overthrow the beauty queen.

On Friday, Nicaraguan law enforcement expressed their intention to apprehend the organizer of the Miss Nicaragua pageant. They allege that she purposely manipulated the competitions in order for anti-government contestants to be crowned as a means to overthrow the government.

1960s setting

The allegations against Karen Celebertti, the director of the pageant, could easily fit into a classic James Bond film set in the 1960s.

Authoritarian, isolated regime

Allegations of plotting a coup, involvement of foreign individuals, and involvement of beauty pageant winners.

On November 18, the Miss Universe competition was won by Sheynnis Palacios, representing Nicaragua as Miss Nicaragua. The government of Nicaragua was proud of her achievement.President Daniel Ortega

The brief moment where there was a belief of achieving a rare success in public relations, as her victory was celebrated as a genuine source of happiness and satisfaction.

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Sheynnis Palacios, Miss Nicaragua, took part in the evening gown segment at the 72nd Miss Universe Beauty Pageant held in San Salvador, El Salvador on Saturday, November 18, 2023.

Moises Castillo / AP

But the tone quickly soured the day after the win when it emerged that Palacios had posted photos of herself on Facebook participating in one of the mass anti-government protests in 2018.

violently repressed, and human rights officials say 355 people were killed by government forces. Ortega claimed the protests were an attempted coup with foreign backing, aiming for his overthrow. His opponents said Nicaraguans were protesting his increasingly repressive rule and seemingly endless urge to hold on to power.

According to the National Police, Celebertti was actively involved in both online and in-person terrorist actions during the failed coup, likely referring to the 2018 demonstrations.

Unfortunately, Celebertti managed to evade the police after being denied entry into the country a few days ago. However, according to local news sources, her son and husband were arrested.

Celebertti, along with her husband and son, are accused of committing “treason against the nation.” They have not made any public statements regarding the allegations.


On September 6, 2018, President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo of Nicaragua held a rally in Managua, Nicaragua.

Alfredo Zuniga / AP

According to the statement, Celebertti stayed in communication with the rebels and suggested using the franchises, platforms, and spaces typically used for promoting “innocent” beauty pageants for a plot to turn the competitions into traps and political ambushes funded by outside agents.

The Miss Universe victory became a rare chance for regular Nicaraguans to rejoice in the streets, despite being prohibited from protesting or displaying the national flag during marches.

The government was angered by the plotters’ decision to use the blue-and-white national flag instead of Ortega’s red-and-black Sandinista banner. They claimed that the plotters planned to repeat the worst chapter of history’s vileness by taking to the streets again in December.

Only five days after Palacio’s victory, Vice President and First Lady Rosario Murillo was criticizing opposition social media pages (many of which are operated from abroad) that praised Palacios’ win as a triumph for the opposition.

“Exploring the Violent Confrontations between Demonstrators and the Authorities in Nicaragua at 02:50”

“Amidst this recent triumph, we are witnessing hateful and malicious remarks from terrorist sympathizers who seek to undermine our joy and achievement by promoting destructive agendas,” Murillo stated.

The administration of Ortega took control of and shut down the Jesuit University of Central America in Nicaragua, which served as a center for demonstrations against the Ortega regime in 2018. Additionally, at least 26 other universities in Nicaragua were affected.

The government has banned or shut down over 3,000 civic organizations and NGOs, detained and deported opponents, revoked their citizenship, and seized their possessions. Many have been forced to flee their home countries.

There has been no comment from Palacios, the first Nicaraguan to win Miss Universe, regarding the current situation.

Palacios, 23, expressed her desire to advocate for mental health after experiencing severe episodes of anxiety. She also aims to address and reduce the wage disparity between men and women.

However, on a now-deleted Facebook account using her name, Palacios shared pictures of herself at a demonstration and expressed that she had been hesitant to join initially. “I was unsure about attending, I was worried about potential consequences.”

Some individuals who were present at the march that day remember spotting the tall and impressive figure of Palacios.