Cocalero (2007)

Cocalero is a documentary about the life and the days leading up to the 2007 Bolivian presidential election for Evo Morales. The film helps also to analyze the struggling indigenous population in Bolivia, that wants desperately to be given the rights that they rightfully believe they should be given. Interestingly enough, the film shows Morales becoming the first indigenous democratic president to have ever been elected in Bolivia. Although the film is loosely centered around Evo Morales’ presidential campaign and election, the film also allows the viewer to gain a perspective from the indigenous populations point of view.

 For thousands of years, many of the indigenous peoples have made it a lively hood by growing and distributing the coca leaves from the coca plant. In the past decades from U.S. intervention and government regulation, the coca plant production has become very restricted. History has shown not only in Bolivia but in many other South American countries, the indigenous populations have been given little or no say as to what freedoms they will be dealt. Many tribes have been kicked off there native lands or had there native territorial resources exploited by outside foreign corporations. As well, many native tribes have rebelled only to meet strong military resistance. In Cocalero, the viewer is able to grasp some of these treatments from certain scenes. One scene in particular, involves Evo during his campaign being asked by an older indigenous lady if he is going to support the growing and producing of coca. He intently describes to her that yes ofcourse he supports this. Another scene that stuck out, was the teaching of illiterate indigenous women on how to vote. This is interesting because it seems to know the political views and sides taken by different candidates, it  seems necessary that one might need to be able to read.

In the article, “Ecuador’s Pan-Indian Uprising” by Les Field the struggles of the indigenous within Ecuador are underlined. Since the colonial period when the Spanish arrived, the indigenous have been given little acknowledgement and have been forced to relinquish traditional values and forgo the laws put in place by outsiders. Historically speaking Ecuador has seen many revolts by indigenous peoples, dating back to the 1500’s, but on May 27th, 1990, a different rebellion took place. “One hundred and sixty Indians occupied Santo Domingo Cathedral in the heart of the city of Quito. They demanded the immediate resolution of land disputes in six highland provinces.”(Fields pg. 39). Land disputes have remained the large cause of many of the indigenous revolts and native uprisings. Much of there land has been claimed by others and used to extract resources for export. Too many natives this is completely outrageous. The Ecuadorian rebellions are very similar to Bolivian turmoils. Many South American indigenous want to continue with their traditional ways, but globalization has increasingly threatened to discontinue that. Much of Ecuador has been exploited, including the sierra region. Rain forest areas in Ecuador have been cut down to make room oil drilling.

Cocalero does well in representing a different, less political look inside the struggles and ways of the Bolivian indigenous. It provides a simple and less commercial aspect to a political campaign in which the less powerful majority makes history by electing one of their own for the first time.