Miss Universe Nicaragua: Ortega’s regime attacks women

Miss Universe Nicaragua: Ortega’s regime attacks women

Published on 27 Mar 2024

Praised by Nicaraguans, banished by Ortega.

The Nicaraguan regime maintains a love-hate relationship with women in their country. While last March 8, on International Women’s Day, the Nicaraguan National Assembly approved the “Law declaring women who have given and give life to the homeland as National Heroines”, the persecution and banishment of the recently crowned Miss Universe and her supporters has made international headlines. 

The Ortega and Murillo dictatorship has a simple filter when dealing with women. Those who support the regime are exalted, those who show any kind of dissent or criticism receive rejection, threats and jail. Nicaragua’s current Miss Universe, Sheynnis Palacios, is experiencing this firsthand. With no possibility of returning to her country, she has received both attacks and support through social networks. 

Sheynnis Palacios from Diriamba became the first Central American to wear the Miss Universe crown in 2023. Thousands of Nicaraguans took to the streets to celebrate Palacios’ unexpected success on November 18. 

Many Nicaraguans waved the country’s official blue and white national flag, which has become associated with the anti-government protests that swept through 2018 before being brutally repressed. A way to come out to celebrate and at the same time protest at a time when dissent in the country is paid with jail and banishment. 

Although the Ortega regime initially issued a statement welcoming Sheynnis Palacios’ victory with “pride and joy”. This quickly changed when images went viral showing her waving the national flag at an anti-government demonstration in 2018.

Palacios has not been able to return to Nicaragua since she was crowned Miss Universe in El Salvador. 

Businesswoman Karen Celebertti, director of the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant, was also accused by the Ortega and Murillo regime for crimes such as treason and conspiracy, in addition to money laundering and dissemination of false news. 

The police accused Celebertti of manipulating the pageant in favor of anti-government beauty queens. She and her daughter were denied entry to Nicaragua and forced to fly to Mexico. In addition, police arrested her son and husband, both co-owners of the local Miss Universe franchise. 

In Nicaragua you cannot talk about Miss Universe. Public employees claim that the dictatorship controls everything they say or share on social networks. To the prohibition to publish photos of Catholic processions is now added the condemnation for talking about Sheynnis Palacios. 

The media are not allowed to name her either. Until February 9, Channel 10 and the other media of the group, such as 11 and radio stations, followed Sheynnis in their entertainment segments. But the regime prohibited it.  

However, it is not only the media that should be silent. Muralists Franl Kevin “Vink” Laguna Guevara and TOUR Místico were sentenced to 5 years in prison for attempting to paint a mural in honor of Sheynnis. 

ProBox Digital Observatory conducted a review of the digital conversation around keywords such as: Sheynnis Palacios, Miss Universe, Miss Nicaragua, betrayal of the country, Miss Nicaragua conspiracy, and Miss Nicaragua money laundering; obtaining 2,410 mentions between January 27 and March 3. 

The peak of the conversation was registered between February 26 and 27 with 392 mentions and 460 mentions registered, being the date when Miss Universe visited Costa Rica as her first destination in Central America and being a country where many Nicaraguan migrants are located. 

Gráfico

The conversation around the keywords mentioned was concentrated on Facebook with 51.16% of the mentions recorded and Twitter (X) with 44.61% of the mentions recorded, along with a small sample of Instagram with 4.23%.

While the regime wants to erase Sheynnis’ name from everywhere, on TikTok her presence not only remains, but the perception of her is favorable.

After a research based on keywords, 30 videos published on the TikTok platform were collected, accumulating more than 11.6 million reproductions and almost 700 thousand “likes”, as well as more than 20 thousand comments.

In the conversation in this social network, it was determined that the main accounts that disseminated information were news portals and the main hashtags mentioned terms such as dictatorship, scandal, controversy or characters of the regime such as Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. In addition, all videos recorded and downloaded have a trend of rejection or condemnation of the actions taken by the Nicaraguan regime against Sheynnis Palacios or Karen Celebertti.

In the midst of a dictatorship like the one in Nicaragua, which seeks to censor, persecute, prohibit, imprison and above all erase any dissident voice, social networks are opening up as spaces in which citizens continue to find, albeit increasingly cautiously, places to express themselves. 

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