The tragedy of Hassan Nassar, Colombia’s propaganda chief

Fewer than 150 people watched President Ivan Duque‘s COVID show on YouTube on Wednesday as the brainchild of his troubled propaganda chief Hassan Nassar, is failing.

Duque hired the former commentator of government-friendly television network RCN Television in January in the hope Nassar could improve the president’s abysmal approval rating.

The president’s attempts to violently crack down on massive anti-government protests in late 2019 had sunk the far-right president’s approval rating to a record low.

Nassar had always been an outspoken supporter of the president’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, and took the challenge, and failed miserably.

The coronavirus pandemic provided a unique opportunity to position Duque not as a mafia puppet, but a leader.

In order to do this, the president’s propaganda chief restarted the daily online presidential broadcast Duque’s previous propaganda chief introduced during the 2019 protests, but abandoned after its pilot episode.

The crisis boosted the approval rating of the president to a record high of 52%, considerably less than those of mayors who had taken measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus ahead of Duque.

The mayors’ actions apparently had more impact than the president’s show, but Nassar’s job was to improve Duque’s image, not to tell the president what to do.

The government’s failure to respond to the coronavirus and increased violence attributed to Duque’s failure to implement a 2016 peace deal quickly ended the president’s short-lived approval.

When local media revealed that Duque’s propaganda chief had used peace funds to to improve the president’s image, Duque’s public approval dropped even further.

Furthermore, the president’s COVID show only confirmed claims Duque was afraid to leave the presidential palace.

Instead of leading Colombia through the biggest crisis in recent memory, the president was hosting Nassar’s show that was losing audience every day.

By October, the president’s approval rating was at 31% and dropping.

While more than 100,000 people watched “Me Dicen Wally,” a political satire show on Wednesday, less than 150 people watched Duque’s COVID show.

Nassar, in the meantime, has become one of Duque’s most ridiculed aides, especially after claiming that more than a million people in Choco received government aid. The Pacific province only has 600,000 inhabitants.

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