May 7, 2018
It’s been a long time since it was safe for Thelma Aldana to go out in public alone, and perhaps it never will be again.
As chief prosecutor for Guatemala, Aldana won plaudits at home and abroad as the woman who sent a president to prison and broke up a number of high-level corruption rings. But it came at a cost — her own personal safety — as her crusading angered some of the country’s most powerful and dangerous people, long accustomed to doing as they pleased with little or no consequences.
The biggest trophy on her wall from four years in office: Taking down a network allegedly led by then-President Otto Perez Molina, who is accused of defrauding the state of millions of dollars.
“In the Bible it says you shall know them by their fruits, and I gave my best effort,” Aldana said in a series of interviews with The Associated Press as she prepares to leave office when her term ends this month. “With all modesty, I leave with my head high.”
Those close to her call the 62-year-old Aldana “the boss.” She is described as a strictly punctual person and a voracious reader. Appearing before news cameras to announce the latest corruption ring to fall, she typically appears calm, collected and intrepid. Her facial expression is often tough and inscrutable, making it difficult to guess what she is thinking.
It seems the only one able to crack that demeanor is Toby, her 5-year-old Shih Tzu. Speaking to the AP in a small room at her offices decorated with recognitions where she likes to receive visitors, Aldana broke into a broad smile recalling how when she brings work home, Toby likes to rest in the cardboard box she uses to carry the same documents that could end up putting criminals and politicians behind bars.