Cocalero is a documentary about that follows the election of Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia. However, the movie also shows important aspects of Bolivian culture and politics. The movie also depicts the importance of Coca in Andean Culture. In the movie, Evo travels to Chapare, the largest coca growing region of Bolivia. This is where his coca farm is. Throughout the movie, there are scenes where coca is being grown and sold. Leonilda Zurita, a leader of the Women’s Coca Union, as well as a candidate of the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) really gives an inside look at the cultural importance of coca. She explains that once, she went to the United States to explain the importance of Coca. Everyone thought that coca was cocaine, and did not realize the difference. She said that many were even afraid of the coca leaf. She explains that Coca has been used for years in Bolivia and that many indigenous Bolivians chew the coca leaf because they think that it is good for their health.
Most importantly, this movie depicts the plight of the indigenous people and the movements of the indigenous people in Bolivia. However, these movements are not independent to Bolivia, but have taken place in most of the Andean regions as well as other countries of Latin America. These movements have been extremely successful. In Bolivia, Evo’s campaign started with the coca unions, but later gained the approval of many other indigenous people. Evo’s staunch opposition to neo-liberalism and the policies of the United States helped him gain support from many other sectors of the society, including the miners, who had never supported a candidate in Bolivian elections before. However, the movie does show how Bolivia is not only inhabited by indigenous. The wealthier city in Bolivia, Santa Cruz, is mainly inhabited by people of Spanish decent. Many of them were extremely unsupportive of Morales. In the documentary, when Evo is in the airport of Santa Cruz, a man is yelling “Fuck you Indian.”
Les Field in “Ecuador’s Pan-Indian Uprising” explains the indigenous movements in Ecuador. In 1990, 160 indigenous Ecuadorians occupied the Santo Domingo Cathedral in Quito. According to Field, “They demanded the immediate resolution of land disputes in six highlands provinces. The takeover marked the beginning of a nationwide uprising which shut down the country for over a week. The uprising was called the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), in the name of the regional federations from the highlands (sierra), the Amazon (oriente), and the Cost” (Field 39). Sawyer in “” explains that many of these movements, in Ecuador and elsewhere have primarily focused on the “nation.” Essentially they have focused on the importance of culture to the state. Suzana Sawyer in “The 1992 Indian Mobilization in Lowland Ecuador” says that, “As new political actors, indigenous leaders call for the right to maintain ethnic diversity in the context of politico-territorial autonomy and self-determination” (Sawyer77). Eventually, these indigenous were able to overcome their marginalization and show their importance to Ecuadorian society, just as the Bolivians were. Also in Ecuador, the leftist leader, Rafael Correa, a comrade of Evo Morales was elected president.