Born in Cúcuta in 1964, studied law at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. Cristo served as President of the Congress of the Republic until mid-2014.
During his youth his career was linked to journalism as editor of La Noticia newspaper in Cúcuta, between 1988 and 1990.
In 1990 he took office as Private Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Development, during the César Gaviria administration, and subsequently served as Consul General of Colombia in Caracas between 1992 and 1993. From 1994 to 1997 he held different posts in the Ernesto Samper administration as Presidential Counselor for Communications, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Colombian Ambassador in Greece.
In 1998 he was elected as Senator of the Republic for the Liberal Party, where he served until 2014.
At the Senate of the Republic, he chaired the Sixth and First Committees, and held the post as President of the National Directorate of the Liberal Party.
During his congressional career, Juan Fernando Cristo championed the constitutional reform to suppress the National Television Commission, authored and presented the 2003 political reform which modified electoral rules by creating the single lists of the political parties for public bodies; likewise, he promoted Law 1134 of 2007 organizing the merit-based screening for the election of the National Registrar of Vital Statistics, as well as the Youth Citizenship Statute, Law 1622 of 2013, aimed at increasing youth participation in the design and execution of youth-related public policies.
Likewise, he promoted the Statutory Law for Political Parties and Movements, the Legal Framework Law for Peace, and the Victims’ and Land Restitution Law, an essential instrument for the peace process driven by President Santos.
In June 2012, then Senator Cristo presented, along with President Santos, the book entitled “La Guerra por las Víctimas” (The War for the Victims), which tells the law’s story and the process for its approval.