The director of the Miss Nicaragua pageant, Karen Celebertti, has resigned one week after the country’s national police charged her, along with her husband and son, with conspiracy and treason, accusing them of involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. Celebertti, who has led Nicaragua’s Miss Universe franchise for more than two decades, made the announcement on Tuesday via her Instagram account.
The whirlwind, controversial turn of events came on the heels of Sheynnis Palacios’ groundbreaking win at Miss Universe 2023 — which was hosted in El Salvador last month — as the Central American country’s first representative to secure the title.
“For 23 years I have worked with zeal and effort to exalt the name of my homeland Nicaragua… I have done it with transparency, with a lot of love and believing in each and every one of the Nicas because talent and beauty abound in every corner of the country,” Celebertti wrote in a post on Instagram, without directly addressing the accusations against her.
“The time has come for my retirement,” she added. “I know that there will always be more opportunities for us: My husband and I come from hard-working, honest families that have always distinguished themselves by their support of the community… I have left an entire life at the service of my country, in the way that I can: with responsibility and professionalism.”
The charges against Celebertti stem from a period of anti-government unrest in 2018, as Nicaraguans protested changes to the country’s social security. Human rights organizations have estimated that at least 355 people were killed when police forces cracked down on the protests; Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his government has categorized the demonstrations as “terrorism” and an “attempted coup.” Earlier this month, police asserted Celebertti’s involvement with that alleged “failed coup attempt” in a statement.
Police said they also had evidence that Celebertti had used her role to turn bThe Miss Universe Organization said in a statement to CNN that while Celebertti’s resignation had been accepted, the organization “stand(s) by our partners in asserting the transparency and integrity of their pageant.”
“Going forward, we are seeking a peaceful resolution of the issues raised by the country of Nicaragua, as well as the safety of everyone associated with the organization,” the statement continued. “We hope that the country will continue to come together and support Sheynnis and Karen as they advocate for a future forged by women — and to celebrate the beautiful culture and people of Nicaragua.
Anne Jakrajutatip, the founder of JKN Global Group, which owns Miss Universe, also took to Instagram to voice her support for Celebertti, thanking her “for being so brave, so strong and so decisive” and for “believing in what women can do and fighting against all odds without fear.”
On November 23, Celebertti and her daughter were refused entry into the country when they attempted to return home from Mexico following events related to the pageant. CNN en Español reported on Tuesday that, while Celebertti remains in Mexico, her husband and son have been detained in Nicaragua since November 27.
Neither Celebertti nor the Nicaraguan government has responded to CNN’s request for comment.