María Cristina Caballero, Colombia, is a journalist known for her coverage of organized crime, corruption and paramilitary forces. In 1999, she was awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Caballero holds a bachelor's degree in communications and journalism from Javeriana University as well as a Master's in public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government (2003) where she was a Mason Fellow. Caballero was also a Harvard Center for Public Leadership Fellow until 2006.
Caballero began reporting for the Bogotá newspaper La Republica at the age of 16. She went on to become editor of investigations at El Tiempo, Colombia's largest daily paper, as well as at the news magazine Cambio. From 1998 to 2001, she worked as director of investigations at the weekly news magazine Semana. Her articles have also appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, CNN Interactive, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Providence Journal, The Harvard Gazette and the International Herald Tribune, as well as Columbia Journalism Review and Nieman Reports. Caballero has stated that "at least a dozen" Colombian politicians were jailed for corruption as a result of her reporting.
In 1997, she was granted a rare interview with Carlos Castaño, then military leader of an association of paramilitary groups, a right-wing organization. In the interview, Castaño revealed for the first time that he was ready for peace talks. In 1999, Caballero received repeated death threats on her home answering machine; in addition, a security officer from her building warned her that a man was waiting near her apartment with a gun. At the invitation of Harvard Dean Joseph Nye, she left Colombia soon afterwards, moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Caballero has gone back to Colombia and other Latin American countries to complete assignments. She has also been invited to talk at different universities and research centers, as well as the United Nations.
Caballero was named an Alfred Friendly Press Fellow by Time magazine's Washington, DC bureau, and a Nieman Fellow of Harvard University in 1997. She was also included in a book by the Pearson Learning Group called "40 Famous Women". In 1991, she was awarded Colombia's Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize for investigating corruption at the National Property Institute, and again in 1998 for her interview with Castaño. The Inter American Press Association awarded Caballero its Human Rights Award in 1990. In November 1999, she was also awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists, "an annual recognition of courageous journalism". Board chairman Gene Roberts praised Caballero and the other recipients as "courageous journalists who faced jail, physical harm and even death, simply for doing their work".