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News About Sheynnis Palacios Not Covered by Media Operating in Nicaragua

Media outlets such as CONFIDENCIAL, that operate from exile, are the only ones reporting on the activities of the Nicaraguan Miss Universe

Sheynnis Palacios, Miss Universe 2023, greets fans upon her arrival at an airport in Laos // Photo: Taken from social media

Redacción Confidencial

16 de abril 2024


Media outlets that operate within Nicaragua are not reporting on the activities of the current Miss Universe, Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios, according to a report released this week by the Costa Rica-based Foundation for Freedom of Expression and Democracy (FFED).

"As part of FFED's media monitoring, we were able to verify that outlets that still operate in their analog version in Nicaragua –both radio and television-- are not covering any of the activities of the Miss Universe organization," stated FFED's quarterly report.

FFED is made up of members of the former Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, which closed its doors in Nicaragua in February 2021 as a result of the controversial Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents, which sanctions those who receive funding and donations from abroad.

According to FFED, the crowning of the Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios as Miss Universe "is historic and is the highest ranking award that Nicaragua has obtained in terms of beauty pageant. In that sense, it is newsworthy and should be on the press' agenda to offer balanced news and a variety of information."

"The fact that there is no coverage of [Sheynnis'] activities appears to be confirmation of the programming of the pro-government media," said FFED.

Sheynnis Palacios, covered only by media in exile

Media outlets like CONFIDENTIAL that are operating from exile are the only ones reporting on the activities of Sheynnis Palacios, the first Nicaraguan and Central American ever to win Miss Universe. She won the crown on November 18, 2023 in El Salvador.

The 23-year-old beauty queen has visited San José, Costa Rica, and Miami, United States, where there are large Nicaraguan diaspora communities. 

Palacios is living in New York to carry out her commitments with the international pageant franchise. Her visit to Costa Rica was the first to a Central American country since she won the crown.

Palacios is the world beauty queen who has taken the longest time to return to her home country. It has been five months since winning the crown, yet there is still no indication that she will return to Nicaragua, where the Ortega-Murillo regime has criminalized the Miss Nicaragua franchise of the Miss Universe organization.

When Palacios won the pageant, thousands of Nicaraguans poured into the streets across the country, waving blue and white flags to celebrate the triumph of the young beauty queen. Such mobilizations had not been seen in Nicaragua since 2018, when the dictatorship banned peaceful protests.

Five days after Palacios' coronation, the dictatorship unleashed a furious persecution against the directors of the Miss Nicaragua franchise. The then-director of the organization, Karen Celebertti, was prohibited from returning to Nicaragua and charged with conspiracy and treason.

Celebertti, who is now residing in Mexico, retired after 23 years of running the Miss Universe franchise in Nicaragua when police arrested her husband and one of her sons in Managua. Both were later released, deported and forcibly exiled. 

The media is not addressing critical issues

In addition to news about Sheynnis Palacios and Miss Universe, Nicaraguan media has removed newscasts and critical coverage of other social and political issues from their programming, according to the FFED report.

"Currently, the media is mainly publishing information to promote municipal and national government activities. They also cover cultural stories and advertise local businesses, and several regular media spaces have been granted to evangelical pastors, mostly new allies of the Nicaraguan government in the context of the attack against the Catholic Church," FFED reported. 

The NGO also monitored media coverage during the recently concluded Holy Week. "We identified that the local media avoided talking about or giving journalistic coverage to the religious activities of the Catholic Church," it said.

According to FFED, the media focused its agenda on promoting summer, beach and gastronomic activities and options, rather than religious activities.

"This new behavior is similar to that of pro-government media" in Nicaragua, observed FFED, which also said that they were able to verify that in seven of Nicaragua's 15 provinces and two autonomous regions, "there is no independent journalistic practice."

"This situation is of great concern in a context where pro-government media outlets are the only ones disseminating information. Citizens have less and less access to independent information about the problems that affect their communities and that might be in contrast to that of the political power groups," FFED warned.

As of March 2024, some 251 journalists, communicators, editors and other media professionals have been forced to leave Nicaragua, according to the report.

*With information from EFE.

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

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.