The director of the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant, Karen Celebertti, has stepped down 10 days after she was accused of treason.
Police said Ms Celebertti had rigged the contest in favour of anti-government beauty queens.
The accusations were made days after Miss Nicaragua, Sheynnis Palacios, won the Miss Universe title.
After her win, photos of Ms Palacios at a 2018 anti-government protest emerged, triggering the government’s anger.
Thousands of Nicaraguans took to the streets to celebrate Ms Palacios’s unexpected success at Miss Universe – the first time Nicaragua has won the pageant.
Many waved the nation’s official blue-and-white national flag, which has become associated with the anti-government protests which swept through the country in 2018 before being brutally repressed.
The government of President Daniel Ortega – who has been in power since 2007 – initially released a statement welcoming Sheynnis Palacios’s victory with “pride and joy”. But it quickly turned against her and those linked to the pageant when the photos of her waving the national flag at a 2018 anti-government demonstration went viral.
Ms Palacios has not returned to Nicaragua since being crowned Miss Universe and opposition media reported that Ms Celebertti and her daughter were denied entry to Nicaragua, forcing them to fly to Mexico.
Local media also say that police arrested Ms Celebertti’s husband and son, who co-own the local Miss Universe franchise. All three have been accused of treason.
A police statement said they had taken part “in the terrorist actions of the failed coup attempt”, a reference to the 2018 anti-government protests.
The statement claims that the family “remained in communication with exponents of treason to the homeland, preparing to use their franchises and platforms allegedly devoted to ‘innocent’ beauty contests in a conspiracy to turn the contests into traps and political ambushes, financed by foreign agents.”
It adds that they “must serve their sentence according to Nicaraguan law”, even though no trial has so far been held.
In a statement published on X, formerly known as Twitter, Ms Celebertti insisted that there had never been any politics involved in the beauty pageants she had organised.
Miguel Mendoza, a veteran Nicaraguan journalist who was among 222 critics of the government deported to the United States earlier this year, said that he hoped Ms Celebertti’s resignation would lead to the release of her husband and son.
Anti-government protests have been illegal in Nicaragua since 2018.
Source : BBC