The 2007 documentary Cocalero Alejandro Landes follows Evo Morales as he runs for the Bolivian presidency. In 2005 Evo Morlaes was elected President of Bolivia and made history by becoming the first indigenous leader of the country. Not only did he win, but he won by an unprecedented majority. For 500 years Bolivia has lived in apartheid with the indigenous people being oppressed, underrepresented in governement, and subject to a life of poverty. The majority of these peoples livelihoods depend upon the cultivation of coca. However, the U.S. has aimed its war on drgus efforst at the complete eradication of coca crops. The Bolivian governement has backed these policies and put the welfare of the coca farmers in jeopardy. Evo Morales set out to change this and to protect coca growers. Coca is not a drug. In its natural form, it is used in teas and it is chewed to offset the effects of living in very high altitudes. Coca most go through a long and intricate process before ever becoming the cocaine, the drug that terrifies America.
Another major issue for the indigenous people and other supporters of Morales is the protection of Bolivia’s natural resources. Morales made promises of renationalizing oil and gas resources iff elected to office and on his 100th day as president he followed through on his words. Despite having the second largest natural gas reserves in the region, Bolivia is one of Latin America’s poorest countries. This move of renationilization is Bolivia’s attmept to seize control of its own resources, profit from the expotation of them, and fix the eceonomy.
Many were passionately against the election of Morales, including the U.S. Elections were threatened to be postponed in an attempt to allow mor time for the opposition to gain more popularity. A problem I see with Evo Morales are his techniques and those of the MAS political party in gaining supporters. Many of the indigenous people are illiterate or largely uneducated. Many live in remote areas without access to television, news, or media of any kind. Becasue the leaders of MAS feel strongly in the righteousness of their movement they come into these communties and coach the indians on how to vote, how to recognize their party and party memebers on the election ballads. As a preist in the film states, these people are given no choice, but to attend these meetings. If they don’t they are fined, if they can’t pay the fine, they are jailed. To me this is coersion. These people never made a choice, because Evo Morales and his policies were all they were taught.
All over Latin America indigenous people have fought for rights to land, political representation and freedom from oppression spawned by racism. In Ecuador, the indigenous fight was for land. In 1992, the indians of the highland and lowland regions led a massive march to the capitol to demand rights to their ancestoral lands (Sawyer). These people demanded that land be redistributed so that they may have control over their destiny and to protect the land from contamination and destruction. They camped in a plaza near to the Presidential Palace until their demands were met and the people returned home with land titles in hand. This was not the first time a large scale indidenous rebellion had been coordinated. Two years earlier, “the Indian occupation of the Santo Domingo cathedral in Quito and the ensuing hunger strike inspired on of the most successful contemporary indigenous mobilizations to obstruct the workings of the Ecuadorian state” (Sawyer).
With Indian movements in Ecuador and the election of Evo Morlaes in Bolivia, it is clear that these people, who have long be silenced, refuse to remain voiceless. They will make themselves heard and demand a quality of life that is a basic human right.