Cocalero gave a near objective view into the present state of politics in Ecuador. It followed the election of Evo Morales in 2005. Morales was a supporter of indigenous people and especially coca workers. Being elected with 54 percent of the votes, he received more votes than presidents before him had. However, the number of indigenous people in Ecuador are at that number or higher. So, it is safe to assume that his base is what elected him to power. Everyone else hated him. The film showed the opposition to Morales in big cities, like Santa Cruz. People said Morelos shouldn’t show his face there, and one Santa Cruz man shouted obsenities and tried to attack the politician. This film portrayed an accurate lense into the situation in Ecuador because it showed the deep divide between two sections of the population: indigenous and white. Still, after hundreds of years, they have racial and ethnic tensions. It is similar to the racial tensions in the United States, but it is much worse. For example, revolts and protests occur a lot in Latin America. But they hardly ever occur in the United States. The U.S. is in the after-stage of the protests, which occurred in the civil rights era of the 1960s and 1970s.
So, the film showed the tensions between indigenous people and white people, who lived in big cities like Santa Cruz. The film’s material is historically accurate. The government of Ecuador has been known for being very hostile to indigenous people. It has passed laws saying one is not allowed to give their child an indigenous name on his or her birth certificate. In addition, the government has been very oppositional to indigenous uprisings. The Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Pastaza (OPIP) organized a march across the country of Ecuador (Sawyer, 68). The march received support from the press, police, the Red Cross and even white-mestizo areas. It showed the country’s potential to transform race and ethnic relations, and the government decided to grant the indigenous title deeds to rainforest lands (Sawyer, 66-67).
But behind the scenes, the Borja administration was manipulating international concerns for tropical conservation to work against indigenous goals, and it only granted 55 percent of the Indian’s territorial demands (Sawyer, 72). On top of that, conservative members of Congress insisted that OPIP was radical and was aimed at creating a new state in the rainforests designed to overthrow the government. Obviously, indigenous people were pitted against white conservatives. The problem is that there were few people willing to make compromises and step across the aisle. It’s the same problem that occurs in poorly constructed political systems in countries throughout the world, including the United States at times.
The film, Cocalero, portrayed Morelos as radical. He did not engage in debates. In one scene, he appeared on a Santa Cruz television station. He was not willing to engage a conversation with the anchor about taking away land from landowners. He answered the question rudely and said he had to go because he was late for an appointment. Indigenous people didn’t want to compromise. In a 1990 uprising by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, Indians stayed in a cathedral in the old city of Quito. They demanded land disputes in six highland provinces to be resolved (Field, 1). In addition, CONAIE had sixteen demands, outlined in page 3 of Field’s article. This language is portrayed as threatening and non-ciliatory. So, it is not surprising that President Borja denounced their proposal and brought negotiations to an abrupt end (Field, 5). There were two separate political positions and not many people who could bridge the two groups together.