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Nicaraguan authorities charged the owner of the local Miss Universe franchise with treason and organized crime as part of a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the government of President Daniel Ortega, weeks after the country’s first victory in the global pageant, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Police accused local organizer Karen Celeberrti, her husband and son of rigging the beauty contest so that anti-government winners would emerge at the pageants.
Two weeks ago, Miss Nicaragua, Sheynnis Palacios, won the Miss Universe contest for the first time in history, sparking waves of celebration and joy in the Central American nation.
But it later emerged that Palacios, a 23-year-old mental-health activist and audiovisual producer, had posted photos of herself on social media participating in mass protests against Ortega five years ago.
In 2018, anti-government demonstrations – spearheaded by university students – shook the regime, prompting authorities to launch a violent crackdown that killed more than 300 people.
Palacios, who is currently in the United States, has not been charged with any crime.
Even so, the charges against Celeberrti underscore the latest efforts by Ortega to maintain his hold on power – the leftist president has ruled the country since 2007.
In 2021, he won the country’s presidential election unopposed, which many Western countries condemned as fraudulent. Since then, Ortega has closed thousands of civic groups in Nicaragua, shut down most media and forced nearly all of his political opponents into exile.