The film Cocalero showed Evo Morales’s presidential campaign in 2005. He won with 54% of the vote and became the first indigenous Bolivian to be elected president. His campaign was much different than Goni’s that we observed the previous week. Instead of using American political strategists and winning with 22% of the vote, Morales ran a more grass roots campaign, appealing to the native population and garnering support from the majority of the population, and thus allowing him to enact laws that he sees appropriate and necessary to improve the nation as a whole.
The film parallels the events in Ecuador with the uprising and strengthening of the indigenous South American population. Morales led these individuals in Bolivia, to remove to presidents from power, which eventually led to the election of himself as president with the largest margin of victory in the nation’s short democratic history.
The native people had been living in South America for thousands of years prior to the Spanish arrival, and were successfully trading commodities and goods (Field). When the Spanish conquistadors arrived and conquered the Incan civilization, they took land from the natives and gave it to the generals and other officers, while giving the worst, unfertile land to the indigenous population (Field). This is one of Morales’s key campaign points, the restructuring of the land in Bolivia.
Morales led marches in the countryside and city alike to demonstrate against the unfair laws enacted against the lower class farmers and factory workers, which are predominantly native South Americans. These marches were very similar to the ones in Ecuador in 1992 for indigenous rights (Sawyer 65).
Many issues still plague both Ecuador and Bolivia. A primary battleground for the two nations is oil and natural gas rights, and what to do with the excess reserves. In Ecuador, vast oil reserves were discovered in the Amazon Basin, and many companies including Shell have taken control of the area and are exploiting it for their benefit (Sawyer 70). In Bolivia, natural gas is being exported through Chile which is creating a large public outcry since many do not want to export the commodity to the United States. This was an important issue in both the 2003 and 2005 elections.
Now, 500 years after the Spanish takeover of South and Central America, the indigenous population is finally returning to power and assuming control of what was once theirs. They are making great strides in South America by creating new laws to assist them, and abolishing the old ones that were created to keep them in the lower class.