Director of Nicaragua’s Miss Universe franchise charged with plotting to overthrow the government

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR - NOVEMBER 15: General view of  the The 72nd Miss Universe Competition - Preliminary Competition at Gimnasio Nacional Jose Adolfo Pineda on November 15, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

The 2023 Miss Universe pageant took place in El Salvador last month and was won by Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua.Hector Vivas/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Nicaraguan police have charged the director of the local Miss Universe franchise with conspiracy, treason, money laundering and spreading fake news as part of a plot to overthrow the government, weeks after the Central American nation’s first victory in the pageant.

Karen Celebertti and two others have been accused of participating in “terrorist actions of a failed coup attempt” in 2018, when Nicaraguans protested against President Daniel Ortega’s attempted reforms to the country’s social security system.

Police said Celebertti had used “innocent beauty contests” to turn the “competitions into political traps and ambushes, financed by foreign agents.”

They said they have “telephone and technological memories” to be used as evidence against her.

Celebertti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The shock move came after Sheynnis Palacios won the global pageant on November 18, becoming the first Nicaraguan to do so.

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR - NOVEMBER 18: Miss Nicaragua  Sheynnis Palacios is crowned as Miss Universe 2023 during the 72nd Miss Universe Competition at Gimnasio Nacional José Adolfo Pineda on November 18, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios was crowned Miss Universe 2023 last month.Hector Vivas/Getty Images

On November 23, Celebertti and her daughter were refused entry into Nicaragua and returned to Mexico, from where they had departed. They were not told why they were refused entry, a source close to the matter told CNN.

Celebertti was in Mexico and Miami for Miss Universe-related activities after the pageant.

CNN has reached out to the Miss Universe for comment on the charges. The organization said they may be able to provide a comment “later.”

Highlights from the 2023 Miss Universe pageant’s national costume competition

The day before Celebertti was denied entry, Rosario Murillo, the country’s Vice President and the wife of Ortega, referred cryptically to the country’s “new victories.”

Without referring to the pageant or Celebertti by name, Murillo said in Nicaragua “snakes have no space, they have no place.”

“To the vain, crazy and evil, stop taking advantage of so much beauty, joy and talent in Nicaragua. Stop manipulating the well-deserved triumphs of a pretty girl to hide your insignificance and inability,” she added.

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