Cocalero is a 2007 documentary that depicts Evo Morales’ achievement as Presdident in Bolivia in 2006. Morales led the Cocalero Movement which vied for the indigenous’ right to sell coca leaves despite the Bolivian government, combined with United States influence, to stop coca production. California refused to buy oil from Bolivia if they continued coca production. This enormous contradiction angered the indigenous coca farmers because coca leaves are not solely used for the production of cocaine. Coca leaves are used in cooking, in teas, and several other home remedies. The U.S. was largely responsible for transforming coca leaves into an illegal substance that brought in massive amounts of money. Unlike marijuana, that can be used as a drug straight from the ground, cocaine is a tedious process and transformation from the original state.
Unlike the movie we watched last week, Our Brand Is Crisis, Cocalero represents indigenous people as a peaceful group seeking rights to their land and business. They were educated in the political realm, regardless of literacy level, because of their absolute reliance on coca production. Sawyer explains in her article, “The 1992 Indian mobilization in Lowland Ecuador”, that the indigenous were “far from being a spontaneous event rooted in ‘primordial’ attachments to the land, the march was highly orchestrated” (68). Morales was a representative of the Bolivian people and what they desired to see in the government. Goni, receiving a mere 22% of the votes, compared to Morales 60%+ votes reflects his voice that came from the people of Bolivia versus the government of foreign investors, or United States political teamsters. Evo Morales was one of the “indigenous leaders [that] demanded sufficient land to farm and a fair share of government benefits” (Chasteen 319). In Cocalero, we saw that Morales was not concerned with the monetary aspects of being a political leader. It was his goal to save as much money as possible, and he didn’t have to pay people to come to his rallies, they simply flooded the city when he was going to be speaking. He understood Quechua, the indigenous language, though he couldn’t speak it fluently. After his successful political campaign, he wore an indigeneous-styled “suit.” He was truly a representative of the Bolivian people.
Sadly, the indigenous people of Latin America have experienced centuries of government overhaul of their lands. “Dark skin color, whether indigenous or African, remained a social disadvantage” (Chasteen 320). Sawyer explains the Ecuadorian situation that was seen in multiple Latin American countries, like Bolivia: “With the discovery of oil in the northern Amazonian area in the late 1960s and Ecuador’s joining of OPEC in 1973, colonization of eastern lowlands was increasingly a state preoccupation and petroleum a national-security concern” (69). Oil, along with other valuable commodities, allowed the government access to Amazonian lands which were inhabited mainly by the indigenous. Though the indigenous represented a large portion of the population, they usually lacked a voice that supported their concerns in the political seat. Evo was a man of the people, that was unconcerned with his own goals, because he was too busy securing natural rights to the lands of the people that held them to begin with.