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Playing Pablo: Actor In Role Of Druglord Escobar Needs Therapy

Colombia marks 20 years since police killed Pablo Escobar, who helped define the nation as the global mecca of violence and drug trafficking. It's a lot to absorb for one man in particular.

Andres Parra in "Escobar, the Boss of Evil"
Andres Parra in "Escobar, the Boss of Evil"
Élber Gutiérrez Roa

BOGOTA — What's it like for a Colombian actor to play the country's famously cruel and bloodthirsty Public Enemy No. 1?

Andrés Parra, describes his television role as Pablo Escobar, once the world’s most notorious drug trafficker, as an “exhausting feast.” It was also one that required him to seek inner peace both during and after filming.

The 36-year-old recalls how as a child in the 1980s, teachers discouraged children from even mentioning the country’s premier mobster, whose criminal escapades and terrorist bombings made Colombia synonymous with violent crime and the cocaine trade.

Colombians have been marking the 20th anniversary this week of when police shot Escobar dead on Dec. 2, 1993.

Parra has acted out the criminal's ugly and eventful life in Caracol Television's weekday soap opera, "Escobar the Boss of Evil," for which the actor says he needed psychological counselling, to better understand Escobar’s “complexity.”

Psychologists confirmed that the drug baron was an “anti-social, aggressive, sadistic” character with a “total absence of disgust, fear and shame," he said. "Escobar was a man who slept easily ... not weighed down by any guilt or his conscience, convinced that what he did was all right.”

Despite the difficulties, Parra loved the role: “It was fascinating accessing a personality with so much color and contradictions.” Filming left him exhausted. "I hid all the books on Escobar, I took a bath with candles, I left the country for a while," Parra said.

Though the country would prefer people speak about such Colombians as Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel García Marquez, soccer star Radamel Falcao or cyclist Nairo Quintana, Parras says: “Whether we like it or not, Escobar was the world’s most famous Colombian.”

What was most interesting about Escobar? “Ninety-five percent” of his life, Parra says. “I had no idea about his relations with sports, with construction, with the law and politicians. I had no idea about the power he had, or that he was responsible for so many attacks. Escobar was in charge!”

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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