Coca is currency in Bolivia, so one concrete (and unintended) consequence of our country’s War on Drugs, with its brutal eradication program in the 1990s which sent marines and local military to uproot and napalm coca farms, was to unify popular resistance into a mass movement. Organizing themselves into unions, Bolivian peasant coca farmers finally succeeded in electing one of their own, Aymara Indian Evo Morales, as the country’s first socialist and indigenous president. In the vivid and fluently shot Cocalero, a finalist for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Brazilian-born documentarian Alejandro Landes and Venezuelan-Spanish cameraman Jorge Manrique Behrens tag along as the dynamic yet accessible populist wages his 2006 electoral campaign from the storm-clouded mountains of Cochabamba to the steamy forests of El Chapare. While the burly candidate shrewdly watches for signs of yankee-instigated coups d’état and fields trick questions from right-wing TV personalities (“If you are elected, will we be invaded by Cubans?”), local unions conduct voting rehearsals for the unlettered. Top quality visuals convey his supporters’ energy and the movement’s optimism, right up to a crossroads moment as Evo locks arms with Fidel and an especially exuberant Hugo Chávez.
- Cinema Tropical
- 94 min
- Alejandro Landes
- Alejandro Landes
- Alex Contreras, Javier Escalas, Alvaro García Lineras, Evo Morales, Leonilda Zurita
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