She may be a hit in her homeland, but Miss Nicaragua is strictly a miss in the United States, a victim of chilly relations between nations.

"Yankee Administration Behaves Worse Than A Fool. They Deny Visa to the Belle," screamed a headline Wednesday in the pro-government newspaper El Nuevo Diario.The newspaper said the reigning Miss Nicaragua, 19-year-old Gabriela Robleto Barquero, was denied a U.S. visa this week to enter Puerto Rico for a beauty contest.

But a U.S. Embassy official in Managua said not even beauty queens can thaw the icy relations between Nicaragua and the United States, which has since 1981 backed the rebels known as Contras who are seeking to overthrow the country's leftist Sandinista government.

"She is just one of thousands of Nicaraguans to whom we've been unable to provide visa services because of the actions of the Nicaraguan government," said the diplomat, speaking in a telephone interview.