Cops like Marge Gunderson, the petite but very pregnant police chief who resolves gruesome crimes in the Coen brothers’ landmark movie Fargo, really exist. Meet Aminta Granera, Nicaragua’s police chief. At 60, she’s not expecting, but as a fragile-looking grandmother who once trained to be a nun, the five-foot-tall chief cuts just as striking a figure in a region rocked by drug violence and gang fighting. Unlike its neighbors in Central America, though, Nicaragua has a strong record on fighting organized crime, for which some credit Granera.
President Daniel Ortega, who won re-election in a landslide earlier this month, recently reappointed her to the post. Ironically, Granera’s greatest accomplishment may be that she is, according to some accounts, even more beloved than the president. Survey after survey, in fact, puts her as the country’s most popular public figure. It has caused friction with Ortega in the past, and U.S. diplomats suggested, in a leaked cable, that he may want to keep her in the police force to ensure she doesn’t enter politics. As Granera recently told a journalist from McClatchy Newspapers: “The greatest danger for the bullfighter isn’t the bull. It’s the applause.”