Nicaragua’s Miss Universe Title Win Exposes Deep Political Divide

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Nicaragua’s increasingly isolated and repressive government scored a rare public relations victory last week when Miss Nicaragua Shanice Palacios won the Miss Universe pageant.

But the “legitimate joy and pride” of President Daniel Ortega’s government on Sunday quickly turned into angry condemnation after the victory, after it was revealed that Palacios had graduated from the college that was at the center of the 2018 protests against the regime – and was clearly involved. The parades.

Ordinary Nicaraguans – who are largely banned from protesting in demonstrations or carrying the national flag – used Saturday night as a rare opportunity to celebrate the Miss Universe victory in the streets.

Their use of a blue and white national flag, as opposed to Ortega’s red and black Sandinista banner, did not sit well with the government.

Palacios’ victory In 2018, she took part in the protests, along with the photos she posted on Facebook – the Nicaraguan protest was excited.

Roman Catholic priest Silvio Baez congratulated Palacios on his social media page, one of the priests imprisoned or exiled by the government.

Baez said, “Thank you for bringing joy to our long-suffering country!” He wrote. “Thank you for giving us hope for the future of our beautiful country!”

In bold rhetoric reminiscent of North Korea, Vice President and First Lady Rosario Murillo took to the social media pages of the opposition (many of whom are fleeing exile) on Wednesday to celebrate Palacios’ victory as a victory for the opposition.

“In this new age of victory, we are seeing evil, terrorist commentators making a cunning and insulting attempt to turn a beautiful and well-deserved pride into a destructive coup-seeker,” he said.

In the year Thousands have fled into exile since Nicaraguan security forces cracked down on massive anti-government protests in 2018. Ortega accused the opposition of a foreign-sponsored coup aimed at ousting him.

The Ortega government seized and closed the Jesuit University of Central America in Nicaragua, along with at least 26 other Nicaraguan universities, in protest against the Ortega regime in 2018.

The government has outlawed or closed more than 3,000 civil society organizations and NGOs, arrested and deported dissidents, stripped them of their citizenship and confiscated their property.

Palacios, the first Nicaraguan to win Miss Universe, has not said anything about the situation.

During the pageant, Palacios, 23, said she wanted to work to promote mental health after suffering from debilitating depression herself. She also said that she wants to close the gender pay gap and work for women to work in any field.

But on a now-deleted Facebook account, Palacios posted photos of herself at the protest, writing that she was initially afraid to participate. “I didn’t know I was going to go, I was scared of what might happen.”

Some people who attended that day’s rally remember seeing Palacios hit and tall.

The protests were quickly quelled, and human rights officials say 355 people were killed by government forces.

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