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The director of the Miss Universe franchise in Nicaragua said she is retiring from her role with the beauty contest after she was charged alongside her husband and son with conspiracy against the government.
Last month, Karen Celebertti oversaw the Central American nation’s first victory in the pageant, when Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios was crowned Miss Universe in El Salvador.
Palacios’ coronation caused a political stir after videos were leaked of the beauty queen participating in anti-government marches in 2018 when she was 17, prompting the government to accuse the opposition of using her victory to plan new protests.
The government has banned protests, with a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in 2018 leaving more than 320 dead, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Celebertti was banned from entering Nicaragua over accusations of conspiracy, with authorities saying she, her husband and her son played a role in organizing the anti-government protests. Her current whereabouts could not be immediately established.
“The time has come for me to retire,” Celebertti said on Monday, December 11 evening in an Instagram post, ending a 23-year stint as the country’s beauty contest head.
The businesswoman did not explain the reasons for her retirement but defended her family. “My husband and I come from hardworking, honest families… we have raised our children to be good, educated and responsible human beings.”
She also defended the beauty queen’s victory, saying that “a crown should be respected as an achievement of all.”
Palacios has not returned to Nicaragua since her victory.
Nicaraguan police said earlier this month that the national Miss Universe organization had been used to “turn pageants into political traps and political ambushes, financed by foreign agents.”
The Miss Universe organization said in a statement posted to social media that it was seeking “a peaceful resolution of the issues raised by the country of Nicaragua, as well as the safety of everyone associated with the organization.”