Cocalero is a 2007 documentary that follows Evo Morales’ political rise that eventually lead to him being elected President of Bolivia in the 2005 election. Following last week’s film Our Brand is Crisis, Cocalero and Evo are a shocking departure from the portrayal of President Goni’s and his Presidential campaign. Evo and Goni couldn’t be more different, with Evo embracing his indigenous background and adopting a series of polices that would nationalize the countries oil and gas industries. This was a major political issue for Bolivia during Evo’s campaign in 2005, and ultimately one of the major reason’s Goni was forced to resign his presidency.

Much of the film is focused on the indigenous in Bolivia, and what is important to them. There is one scene where an old indigenous woman is talking about Evo, and she says that a man cannot be President unless he wears a suit and tie, something Evo rarely wears throughout the film. For her, Western style dress, while nothing like anything she or anyone she interacts with on a daily basis, as become the norm from her leaders. The indigenous, despite their large numbers have historically been left out of the political process in Bolivia and the rest of Latin America. At the end of her interview she comments on how special it would be for Evo to wear a traditional Bolivian style of dress as President.
For the people of Bolivia,the past 30 years have seen an explosion of indigenous organization (Sawyer 76). It is actually somewhat surprising that it took until 2005 for an indigenous person to be elected. With Goni only capable of garnering 21% of the vote in  his Presidential campaign, surely an organized party of indigenous voters could muster a candidate in a country as politically divided as Bolivia, but the problem was a lack of inclusion in the process. The indigenous movement began to pick up steam in Ecuador in 1964 with the passage of an agrarian reform law that, as Les Field wrote in “Ecuador’s Pan-Indian Uprising,” “the abolishment of the huasipungo meant an end of the paternalistic domination of the hacendados, by promising to distribute hacienda lands to former huasipungeros, but failed to do so in the vast majority of cases.” While this was a step forward, it still showed that the indigenous lacked real political capital. Though the native’s right to land was recognized, people continued to be marginalized and their expectations left unmet. For Bolivians in Cocalero, agriculture remains important to them, with the cocoa plant still forming a major source of income to some people, and the government’s campaign to eradicate the plant.

This is seen as a plot by Americans to further exploit Bolivia, and there are several shocking scenes where Bolivians call for a “death to capitalism” and other anti-US sayings. This is largely linked to the poor Bolivian economy, which Evo uses greater government involvement to help stimulate. His promises helped him gain over 50% of vote and lead him to actually establish a government that had the political capital from the people to run the country. Suzana Sawyer writes in “The 1992 Indian Mobilization in Lowland Ecuador,” “The 1992 March was a moment in which indigenous people creatively and forcefully asserted their demands for social justice and greater autonomy” (Sawyer 78.) Likewise, Evo’s rise in Bolivia foreshadows what could be a real transition in politics in Latin America as the old power block held by the descendants of colonist is torn down and replaced by the growing political power of the indigenous population. For this reason Cocalero, is an interest case study on what could become increasingly the norm in South America. This could have a significant impact on the large term political relations for the US in that region.