Diana Salazar Méndez

1 minute read
By Samantha Power

Diana Salazar Méndez—the youngest person, at 42, and the first Black woman to serve as Ecuador’s top law-enforcement official—has one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs in the western hemisphere. While she has pursued challenging cases before—not every prosecutor can say they have successfully secured convictions of a top football executive and a former President—Ecuador’s Attorney General is now spearheading the effort to prevent violent and well-connected drug traffickers from ruining her beloved country. 

As she prosecutes embedded webs of powerful political, judicial, police, and economic players allied with the drug traffickers, she and her family have been subjected to a stream of threats, rendered credible by gangs that have a history of targeting with guns those who have targeted them with the law. In a country where trust in institutions has been low, Salazar has earned the respect and support of a population desperate for calm and safety. As she puts it, “It’s time to tell all of Ecuador that justice will not kneel down.”

Power is the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com