Paramedics in Colombia allegedly left a trans woman to die after learning she was living with HIV. Alejandra Monocuco, who lived in the Santa Fe neighborhood of Bogotá and was employed as a sex worker, had exhibited symptoms of the virus at the center of the global pandemic and died not long after she was abandoned according to members of the local trans community.
Juliana Salamanca, spokesperson for the Trans Community Network, told the Spanish-language Noticias Pasto that a housemate called paramedics in the early morning hours of Friday, May 29, after Monocuco began experiencing breathing problems. After arriving, the demeanor of medics “transformed” and they left shaken after learning Monocuco was living with HIV. She died 40 minutes later. Others told El Tiempo she was exhibiting symptoms of the virus at the time paramedics were called. Salamanca claimed paramedics disagreed and instead suggested she may have suffered a drug overdose.
Bogotá’s Secretary of Health Alejandro Gómez announced that he would conduct an investigation of the allegations, saying "the health conditions of people, the diseases they eventually suffer, their sexual, political or cultural orientations can never be barriers to health care and the exercise of their rights."
Regardless of the government’s assurances, there were international calls for action and justice.
"SAY HER NAME: ALEJANDRA MONOCUCO Alejandra Monocuco was a Black Trans woman in Bogotá Colombia who was left to die with coronavirus symptoms by paramedics who refused to treat her because she was HIV positive. #JusticiaParaAlejandra #SayHerName"
Transgender people in the nation’s capital had been at greater risk of hate crimes during the global shutdown because of the city’s policy of allowing men and women out on alternating days to do essential errands. Under the policy, announced last month by Bogotá Mayor Claudia López, women could go out on even-numbered days and men on odd-numbered ones to limit the number of people leaving their homes. City leaders said trans people could go out according to their gender identity and would not be asked to prove their gender, but local leaders of the LGBTQ+ community noted at least 20 alleged hate crimes that had occurred during the lockdown.