Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

AQ Top 5 Political Satirists: María Paulina Baena

Reading Time: 2 minutesThe award-winning host putting Colombia’s frustrations into words.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

La Pulla YouTube Channel

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This article is adapted from AQ’s latest issue on the politics of water in Latin America. Click here for the rest of our list. | Leer en español

When the creators of the Colombian YouTube show La Pulla set out to engage young people in political and social debate, they knew the old media models just wouldn’t do.

“We didn’t want anything to be stilted, boring or pretentious. We wanted to talk like we do when we’re with our friends,” María Paulina Baena told AQ.

As La Pulla’s first and most recognizable host, Baena, 28, has become the face of one of the country’s most respected — and relatable — sources for opinion and analysis on everything from same-sex marriage and censorship to political corruption and the presidential horse race.

Officially launched in 2017 as an independent project by journalists at newspaper El Espectador, La Pulla connects with younger viewers by mixing Jon Stewart-inspired humor and analysis with the colloquial style of the YouTube era.

“YouTubers were an inspiration because they have the power to keep their audiences connected,” Baena said. “We were drawn to the format of short cuts, zero silence, and speaking straight to the camera in a way that provides a sense of trust and intimacy.”

The show’s deeply researched videos have earned Baena and her fellow La Pulla creators and writers, Juan Carlos Rincón, Daniel Salgar, Santiago La Rotta and Juan David Torres, the Simón Bolívar National Prize for Journalism and more than 800,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel.

“We created a persona that embodies the anger Colombians feel,” Baena told AQ.  “The idea is that we should get worked up, but with a point of view. It’s not just anger for its own sake.”

La Pulla takes an openly left-of-center view on politics — including through regular shots at former President Álvaro Uribe. But it has also called Uribe’s nemesis, Gustavo Petro, an “egomaniac” who “doesn’t deserve to be president.”

“We always take a side … but it’s not because we want people to think like us,” Baena said. “We want to have a conversation.”

Russell is a senior editor at AQ


Benjamin Russell is a writer based in Los Angeles and Mexico City, and a former editor of AQ.

Tags: María Paulina Baena, Satire
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