Cocalero is a documentary showing the rise of Evo Morales as the President of Bolivia. He was the first indigenous president elected in Bolivia. He defends his fellow indigenous citizens who grow coca leaves and seeks to stop their farms and livelihood from being eradicated by the government at the willing of the United States. He campaigns and seeks to help those farmers, and their families, regain their livelihood. It seems that the indigenous people of Bolivia have gotten the short end of the stick due to agrarian reforms over the past century and beyond, leaving them struggling for land and resources and respect (Field). Much like the Europeans did to the original land of the United States, the Spanish arrived on what is now known as South American soil and quickly disrupted the lives of the indigenous farmers there (Field). Even in this century, one can see the stressed relationship between those of Spanish descent and the indigenous population. In one scene, Morales is seen walking through a common area with a light-skinned man shouting racial slurs and derogatory remarks at Morales just because he is of indigenous descent. Much like the Ecuadorians did, the indigenous people of Bolivia are seeking “political identity and natural distinctiveness” (Sawyer). They found both in Morales.
The indigenous people of Bolivia have seemed to become the forgotten class throughout the history of the country. They have constantly struggled against the government and political groups to regain control of land that was once theirs. In the 1990s, similar uprisings of the indigenous population took place in Ecuador. The Indians sought to have their voices heard, gathering at cathedrals (Field) and marching across countryside to urban settings (Sawyer), seeking awareness for their social ousting. The elected officials before Morales complied with the United States’ request that Bolivia destroy the farms of the Coca-growers, causing many indigenous families to spiral even further into poverty. The U.S. claims that they are the reason for the cocaine problem in America. Once again, the indigenous people of Latin America have been victims of agrarian reform (Sawyer, Field), but hopefully this time Morales can save them. He can help stand up for them and help them regain claim to their land and protect their culture, which is really what so many indigenous people desire (Field). Morales and his party leaders explain that the Coca leaf is used for more than making drugs, and that it wasn’t their fault that others turned it into a drug. They use it for tea, food, and more. It seems that western civilizations like the United States have done nothing but strip resource-rich land from Latin Americans, whether it be for petroleum, rubber, spices, or the eradication of coca plants. Tito Moreno said it best when the following was stated: “…For Western civilization, the exploitation of these riches has constituted the base of their fortune; for our peoples, it has represented genocide” (Sawyer).
At the end of the film you watch Morales rejoice with his party at their new election. He, along with the support of not only indigenous people, but many light-skinned Bolivians, hope that his election will help to maintain ethnic diversity (Sawyer) and provide a better way of life for those in poverty in Bolivia. His voice will be heard to help the indigenous peoples of not only Bolivia, but hopefully all of Latin America.