Open letter to the president of Colombia demanding truth and justice in the case of a nurse who was forcibly disappeared 19 years ago

María Cristina Cobo Mahecha, a tireless fighter, a resilient woman, a nurse dedicated and committed to her work and to serving the community. Armed groups forcibly disappeared her in the midst of Colombia’s internal conflict. Her mother demands justice and the truth of what happened. Social sectors send an open letter to the Colombian government asking for measures to clarify the case and provide guarantees of protection, truth, justice, reparation and actions of non-repetition in attacks against health personnel and the medical mission. The case of María Cristina Cobo Mahecha is still open. This is her story.

The People’s Health Movement (PHM) and its members, affiliated networks, social organizations, academic sectors, and individuals, signed an open letter to the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro Urrego, calling on his government to take effective action to guarantee the right to truth in the case of María Cristiana Cobo Mahecha, nurse, victim of torture, sexual violence and whose body was disappeared on April 19, 2004, in Calamar – Guaviare. According to what has been documented by the Truth Commission in Colombia, the violent action against the health worker took place after she was identified as a collaborator of the FARC-EP guerrillas, by members of the Frente Héroes del Llano del Bloque Centauros and a former member of the official security forces.

Join the campaign, sign the Open Letter to the President of Colombia Gustavo Petro

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Learn about the case of María Cristina Cobo Mahecha

María Cristina Cobo Mahecha was born on March 16, 1975, a survivor, a nurse and a daughter. During her childhood, María Cristina survived severe injuries and burns to her body after a home accident with a gasoline stove. This experience inspired her to study nursing to help people. Maria Cristina earned a nursing degree from the Universidad del Llano, in the department of Meta, Colombia. During her first year, Maria Cristina worked in social services, designing health promotion and prevention programs to address the high rates of teenage pregnancy in Calamar, a town in Colombia’s Guaviare, and creating programs to help the elderly peasant population.

Maria Cristina faced discrimination and harassment for being a woman and for her appearance resulting from injuries and burns on her body. The harassment escalated to the point that she was targeted by paramilitary groups and falsely accused of being a member of the FARC-EP (communist guerrilla group).

On April 19, 2004, María Cristina Cobo Mahecha was kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and presumed murdered by the paramilitary group that kidnapped her. After her disappearance, they continued to falsely present her as a collaborator of the FARC-EP in order to silence voices calling for justice.

Finally, two members of the right-wing paramilitary forces of the “Frente Héroes del Llano Guaviare, del Bloque Centauros” (Heroes del Llano Guaviare Front, Centauros Bloc) were charged with the crime. However, so far, no one has been convicted for her disappearance, although she is presumed dead, María Cristina’s body has not been found.