Who is Sheynnis Palacios, the new Miss Universe? 1:07
(CNN Español) –– A few days have passed since Saturday, when Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios became the most beautiful woman on the planet after winning the Miss Universe 2023 pageant, but her compatriots are still intoxicated with emotion, happiness and, at times, afraid that her triumph is just a dream.
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The most analytical have compared the phenomenon unleashed by Sheynnis Palacios among Nicaraguans to winning a World Cup or winning an Oscar. A victory that, they believe, goes beyond beauty, and that for many is the bearer of a message of hope for their country, considered the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, according to UN figures.
The most palpable sign of sentiment among Nicaraguans for Palacios' triumph was the outburst of jubilation within the country. The church bells rang in Diriamba, Carazo, the town where the now Miss Universe grew up, and thousands of Nicaraguans took to the streets across the country with blue and white flags in hand.
Anywhere in the world this would be expected, but not in Nicaragua. Since the beginning of the socio-political crisis of 2018, Daniel Ortega's regime has prevented Nicaraguans from carrying their national flag and expressing themselves freely. This act is perceived as a symbol of rebellion and opposition to the president.
Laura Chinchilla, former president of Costa Rica, echoed the moment on her X account with a comment: "A Nicaraguan friend writes to me... "Last night the regime could not prevent the people from singing the national anthem in the streets for the first time in a long time, taking out the persecuted Nicaraguan flag, and ringing church bells... A moment of happiness in the midst of so much anxiety.'"
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For sociologist and former political prisoner Oscar René Vargas, the celebration for the title of Miss Universe can be considered an act of opposition. "I think that the repression has not managed to disappear the will to take advantage of any possibility to manifest one's will, to make explicit that one is against the dictatorship. People have taken advantage of the triumph in the beauty pageant as an act of rebellion." And this, according to Vargas, could mean that the population becomes aware that the capacity to protest remains despite the repression.
Through social networks, it was known that the artists Vink Laguna and Torch Místico wanted to paint a mural in honor of Palacios in the city of Estelí, but they were prevented by the dictatorship. "That's as far as the mural went. We had intentions to finish, we kept our word, but the authorities did not allow us to continue," Vink Art said on TikTok.
The coronation of Sheynnis Palacios: a message that "changes everything"
"It changes everything. The crowning of Palacios as Miss Universe brings a powerful message not only for Nicaraguan women in general, but also for the entire nation," said Nadia Vado, emotional mentor who worked with the Miss Nicaragua organization for several years in the preparation of the candidates.
For Vado, Palacios is the example that it is not the external circumstances that manage to succeed and be in the eyes of the world, but the person and his integral preparation.
Palacios grew up in Nicaragua, is the daughter of a single mother and grew up in a family with few economic resources. And that, even so, he dreamed of the highest award.
On the Saturday morning she won the crown, she wrote on her X account, formerly Twitter: "Tonight I dedicate it to my inner child and to each of the girls who yearn to fulfill this dream, not even the sky itself is the limit, dream so big that people think it is impossible to achieve, Because that's when you know your dreams and goals will overcome barriers."
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Vado stresses that achievement doesn't happen overnight. He says Palacios has been preparing for this moment for more than a decade. She identifies as keys to her success working with beliefs, having an action plan and having emotional support and qualified professionals. "Many throw in the towel along the way. It's important to strengthen the convictions and purpose of why we do what we do."
Miss Universe 2023 herself has repeatedly said that she suffers from episodes of anxiety, experiences that have led her to become a standard-bearer in favor of mental health care, even before she was Miss Nicaragua. He has even confessed that in the final moments of the election he had two episodes of anxiety.
A boost for other Nicaraguans
But, perhaps, the best part of this story is that Palacios hasn't climbed to the top alone. Her triumph has also served to expose and catapult the art of other Nicaraguans who have collaborated with her.
Carlos René Cruz is the designer of several of the dresses that were most acclaimed in the contest. "It is a triumph for all of us who have been part of this history, it is a recognition of our work, talent and joint effort."
Cruz says that one of the goals of the new Miss Universe is to promote, in every way, the talents of her country.
Luis Pastor is another of the Nicaraguan artists who are on the crest of the wave with the push of Palacios' triumph.
The artist, a singer-songwriter known in Nicaragua for some years, has collaborated with his music in different stages of Palacios' projects since, in addition to being a model and beauty queen, she is also a graduate in Social Communication.
The singer-songwriter released his most recent song, "La Nicaragüita de mi amor," days before the election of Miss Universe and dedicated it especially to the work that Palacios did as Miss Nicaragua. In the official video, she is also the model.
A good part of the thousands of photographs of Palacios that have been shared on social networks have been accompanied by Luis Pastor's song.
"Thanks to her, my music has been better known since long before I won the crown, let alone now as queen of the universe," the singer-songwriter tells CNN.
"I'm very excited to see her succeed because I know her dreams and her efforts to fulfill them and move forward. In particular, I have always thanked him for the love and affection he has given to my songs and my work as an artist," she says.
When Palacios was interviewed in the United States by Telemundo after her coronation, Luis Pastor surprised her backstage singing the song, which moved the Nicaraguan to tears. "You made me cry," the beauty queen says in the Instagram video shared by the singer-songwriter.
For now, many Nicaraguans hope that, in the coming weeks, their first Miss Universe will be able to return to her country, this time just to visit, because she will have to continue with her new life and commitments as a universal beauty queen.