Though somewhat of a periphery character, Juanita is arguably one of the most powerful characters in Stephenson's "Snow Crash." While most of the people who were working for Lagos are in the project for their physical power, like Ng's security and the Mafia's muscle, Juanita is in the project because of her mind, and she is the only one who looks at Lagos' goals and makes her own larger, personal goals in the project.
It is Juanita who first brings Hiro into the project. She tells him he will be working somewhat under Lagos, but when Hiro meets Lagos at the concert, the man has no interest in Hiro. This is perhaps the first indication that Juanita may be working at something more than solving the mystery. By bringing in Hiro, who it seems is of a relatively comparable skill level with computers as Juanita, she frees herself up from her job as hacker to be able to pursue her own goals and work towards achieving her own power goals.
Juanita and Hiro both use manipulation as a source of power and control. Hiro, however, keeps this manipulation to a semi-concrete level by manipulating data and computers, but not people directly. Juanita, on the other hand, is presented as always using her skills as a manipulator on people: she programs the faces in the Metaverse, controlling people's ability to have life-like interactions. When she first asks Hiro to join her in the anti-Snow Crash project, she tells him , she tells him that she will talk to him in the Metaverse, something she usually avoids, "Because of our relationship--when I was writing this--you and I are the only two people who can ever have an honest conversation in the Metaverse" (67). Juanita's expressions are on the face of every single female avatar in the Metaverse, and Hiro's is on all the males. This gives Juanita a certain god-like quality in the Metaverse, for man and woman are made in her and Hiro's image. She can control subtle interactions in the Metaverse without even trying because she has programmed the faces, and because she only truly programmed two faces.
Perhaps her most disturbing exercise of power comes when she willingly goes to The Raft and becomes one of the people who is able to speak the ancient original tongue. When they release the nam-shub of Enki, she refuses to be "cured." When Hiro asks why, she says, "I'm a neurolinguistic hacker now, Hiro. I went through hell to obtain this knowledge. It's part of me. Don't expect me to submit to a lobotomy" (432). Yet presumably there are others on the raft who had a similar ability, and she had no qualms about "lobotomizing" them.
Juanita's close personal association with Inanna is a way for her to manifest the superiority she feels to those around her. By identifying herself as a goddess, Juanita can rationalize doing to others what she will not do to herself. The fact that she does retain the ability to hack the brainstem is perhaps the most frightening thing about her. What exactly does she plan to *do* with this ability? Rife tried to conquer the world with his knowledge of the me and his ability to "hack the brainstem." Given Juanita's past record, it is hard to believe that fundamentally she will do anything all that different from Rife. Perhaps not on the scale, perhaps far more subtly, but when one can hack the brainstem, when one has god-like power over others, is there truly any way to avoid turning those "inferior" to you into dependent slaves of one sort or another?