Husband and Son of Former Miss Nicaragua Director Expelled and Banished

Martin and Bernardo Arguello were released from prison on Saturday. They were accused of "conspiracy against the country" with no evidence

Karen Celebertti with her husband and son.

Karen Celebertti with her husband, Martin Arguello Leiva, and son, Bernardo Arguello Celebertti. // Photo: Instagram

8 de enero 2024


On January 7, the Ortega dictatorship expelled and de facto banished Martin and Bernardo Arguello, husband and son respectively, of the former director of Miss Nicaragua, Karen Celebertti, who was prohibited from re-entering Nicaragua by the regime. She and her family were also accused –without any evidence presented against them– of "conspiracy against the country" and acts related to "financing terrorism."

On January 6, father and son were released from prison and taken to their home in the Satélite Asososca neighborhood. The authorities did not provide any information about their release, although it was unofficially reported that they were given 48 hours to leave the country. The next afternoon, on January 7, the two boarded a plane to Mexico.

"Nice news: At this moment Martin and Bernardo Arguello are flying to meet with Karen Celebertti," posted Juan Sebastian Chamorro, the opposition leader and exiled political prisoner, on X (formerly Twitter).

Martin and Bernardo were abducted from their home by police agents on November 28, 2023. From that point on, it remained unknown where they had been taken, and the Police did not make public any information about their legal situation. For the four days before that, father and son had been held incommunicado, surrounded by police in their home after Karen Celebertti and her daughter, Luciana Arguello, were banished de facto. Both were prohibited from entering Nicaragua when they attempted to return after completing their commitments with the Miss Universe pageant after the triumph of the Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios Cornejo

Father and son imprisoned for more than 40 days 

On December 11, 2023, the magistrates of First Chamber of the Criminal Court of Appeals of Managua refused to process the habeas corpus appeal against the director of the Jorge Navarro National Prison "La Modelo," for illegal detention of Martin and Bernardo Arguello. That denial has led to the assumption that the two detainees were in fact being held there. 

The same day of the Court's denial of the habeas corpus claim, Celebertti announced her retirement as head of the Miss Nicaragua franchise after 23 years in the position and having succeeded in helping Palacios become the first Nicaraguan to be crowned Miss Universe.

The accusations against Martin Arguello and Karen Celebertti

According to the Police, Karen Celebertti, her husband, and her son "actively participated in social media and street protests as part of the terrorist actions of the failed coup attempt" starting in 2018. These charges mimic the language used by the dictatorship to refer to the civic rebellion that erupted in April 2018. What started out as protests against reforms to Social Security quickly became a national clamor for justice, freedom and democracy in the face of government repression and massacres that killed more than 300 people. 

The Police also claimed that in December, 2023, there was a plan to "take to the streets again, in a replay of the worst moment in the history of wickedness, conjuring and confabulating houses of cards swept away by the winds of evil," according to the Police statement, published on December 1. 

The series of aggressions carried out by the dictatorship against Celebertti, as director of Miss Nicaragua, began after dozens of Nicaraguans took to the streets throughout the country, waving the national blue and white flag to celebrate the triumph of the first Nicaraguan to ever hold the world beauty pageant title. Such public mobilizations had not been seen since 2018, when the dictatorship banned peaceful protests.

Celebertti has not made any public mention of the accusation against her family, but in her retirement statement, she clarified that "the Miss Nicaragua [franchise] has grown up free from politics and without discrimination on the basis of race, religion or geographic region."

"This year we won the Miss Universe crown, the first ever for Nicaragua, the first ever for Central America. With much pride and effort, Sheynnis achieved this for all Nicaraguans, without distinction or regard for any kind of differences. It was everyone feeling the joy together. This crown should be respected as everyone's achievement. That night the name that was heard throughout the universe was the name of Nicaragua, and that is why it is important for us to highlight this win as an achievement of every Nicaraguan, without distinction or regard for any political differences," affirmed Celebertti.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.