Director: Alejandro Landes
Screenwriters: Alejandro Landes

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


Recently, the U.S. has directed its war on drugs against Bolivian coca-growing regions, and the Bolivian government has attempted to eradicate coca crops, devastating the livelihood of Indigenous people who cultivate it. In response, the farmers formed a powerful union. Their leader is the Aymara Indian Evo Morales, and in 2005 this unwavering, unpretentious socialist made an historic bid for the presidency.

A lively story about geopolitics, people's movements, Indigenous culture, and one man's impressive determination, Cocalero closely follows Evo's campaign, getting up close and personal with the candidate and the union organization backing him, while presenting critical views of both. What makes Evo so fascinating is how unlikely a candidate he is. A relaxed 40-something bachelor who sports blue jeans and sneakers and lives in a one-room house, he drinks beer with his cronies and goes swimming in his underwear. Yet he moves effortlessly from formal fund-raising dinner to mass rally, charismatically proposing the redistribution of wealth, renationalization of industries, and legalization of coca products.

Not surprisingly, Evo's populist platform elicits strong responses. After he addresses Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as "Commandante," Bolivian TV questions whether Evo is on Chavez's payroll, and his presence at an airport elicits racist epithets. But Evo, defender of Bolivia's first people, wins by an unprecedented majority. Cocalero offers fresh insight into big political changes afoot in Latin America.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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