On Sat., Nov. 18, 2023, Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios made history as she was crowned Miss Universe in San Salvador, El Salvador. She is the first Nicaraguan woman to win the title.

The people of Nicaragua currently suffer under the dictatorship of Sandinista President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. The Ortega-Murillo regime often targets the Church with imprisonment, harassment, and financial freezes of clergy members.

Nicaragua consistently makes international headlines and generates social media buzz for the regime's attacks on religious freedom and more recently, the political imprisonment of Bishop Rolando Álvarez. 

In a frightening political and economic climate in Nicaragua, the significance of this epic win means everything, and the weight of this triumph is not lost on Palacios.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Palacios stated,

"I just feel happy for my country. This is a victory for us, my people... In my country all the people go to the street and celebrate the moment with the flag..It gives us happiness, it gives us hope, it gave us a real victory.” 

The 23-year-old Managua, Nicaragua native graduated from the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua. She is an audiovisual producer and mental health care advocate, a cause she hopes to continue supporting during her reign.

Her pageant interest first began in 2016 when she won the Miss Teen Nicaragua title. She was later crowned Miss World Nicaragua 2020, then Miss Nicaragua 2023, and now, Miss Universe 2023.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Palacios stated,

"I am a Christian person, Catholic person and to me, prayer is a way that makes me feel more comfortable... When I say thanks, God, it is because this crown is not mine, it's for Him. It's all for all the delegates and it's also for my country and my family.” 

Click here if you cannot see the video above.

Recently, President Ortega expelled the Missionaries of Charity, banned public religious processions, shut down Caritas Nicaragua (a major Catholic charity), closed the John Paul II University, and moved to suspend all diplomatic relations with the Holy See, thereby closing the embassy to the Holy See in Managua.

Given the horrifying news of the Nicaraguan government's recent actions, it is very unsafe to be outspokenly Catholic or publicly express the faith in Nicaragua, as it may very well be portrayed as direct opposition to the Ortega regime.

Palacios making such a bold statement highlights her Catholic faith and prayer, and openly calls attention to the Glory of God. It shows that regardless of current fear, faith will triumph. 

Click here if you cannot see the post above.

One day soon, I personally hope to witness a truly free Nicaragua, the homeland of my mother. Until then, the Nicaraguan people will celebrate every victory and pray that someday its citizens will know real liberty. 

Felicidades, Miss Universe! 

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