This week in class, we watched the movie Cocalero. Cocalero, a documentary, chronicles Evo Morales’s attempts and success in becoming the president of Bolivia. The Indigenous peoples of Bolivia relied on the cultivation of the cocoa leaf to provide for themselves and their families, but when the United States began to focus on cutting down drug use, the Indians were left with destroyed cocoa fields and little means to make a living. The Indigenous peoples formed together and came under a union that was led by Morales. Seeking more unification throughout the Bolivian country, Morales ran for president in hopes of stopping the destruction of the Indigenous way of life. In the movie, they interviewed an old farmer who raised cocoa leaves, and he said that they did not grow cocoa leaves to intentionally make cocaine. He went on to say that the use of cocoa leaves for drug use was the idea of people from the United States and not theirs. Morales, knowing this full well, hoped to stop the ban on cocoa products and in turn aid the indigenous way of life.
Cocalero seems to touch on a subject that is not new to Indigenous peoples, oppression. Throughout history, Indigenous peoples have been the target of oppression for people of power. During the infancy of The United States and Australia for example, the Indigenous populations were removed from their lands and their families were torn apart. Morales, and other Indigenous people, decided to take a stand against the oppression that they were encountering. Like the actions of the Bolivians, Indigenous people from Quito,Ecuador decided to ban together when their homelands and rights were being taken away. However, Cocalero’s example of political resolution was not used in Quito. Like the Indians of North America and the Aboriginal people, the indigenous people of Quito had their land and rights taken away from them, and now they wanted them back, “Everywhere the demand was the same:give back the land that once belonged, and still rightfully belongs,to indigenous communnities,”(Field, 39). With a common goal, the return of their property and better living conditions, Ecuador’s Indigenous population blocaded roads and shutdown the economy of Ecuador. The union of oppressed peoples was able to stand against together against the government.
The voice of the indigenous people being heard has not been limited to events like Cocalero and the aforementioned protest. Indigenous Indians from the Pastaza province also demanded the return of their land and the recognition of their culture. These natives demanded some 2 million acres of rainforest land be returned to them,( Sawyer, 65). Although movements like these can not always be seen as successes for the complaintant, the actions of the indigenous peoples have shown them that a unified oppressed people can be a powerful force for accomplishing any goal. Morales was able to unite the indigenous people of his country together and win the country’s election for president. Morales, an indigenous indian, became the president of Bolivia and finally gave the indigenous people a voice for which to be heard. Cocalero, although only focusing on the events around Morales, shows the recent movement of Latin American peoples to unite together to win elections or protest for their rights.