Home      ORO VERDE – the Movie      Coca      Contact      Imprint      
Content      Producers      Crew      Gallery      

     On December 18th, 2005, Evo Morales was elected to the Bolivian presidency with a majority of over 53 percent. Morales is the indigenous leader of MAS, a socialist party that represents the main oppositional political faction in the country since the 2002 elections. The election was an historical event: for the first time in Bolivian history, an indigenous person was elected to the highest office in the land. The decisiveness of Morales" election is also noteworthy. Having received an absolute majority, a second election did not need to be called, an unprecedented event in the history of presidential elections since the end of the military dictatorship in 1982. The leader of the coca farmers from the Chapare region assumed his post on January 22nd, 2006, in La Paz. Together with heading negotiations on the future terms of export of natural gas and petroleum, and convening a constitutional assembly (Asamblea Constituyente), Morales will undoubtedly set a new course in Bolivian anti-drug policy. Thus, coca cultivation in Bolivia retains its controversial actuality.



     The film presents a discussion of the complexity and significance of coca for Bolivia. The country and its people build the main focus, while at the same time shedding light on the issue in an international context. Varying, often discrepant attitudes and statements of those involved are at the crux of the film. The "green goldâ? ignites controversy. For some it is a curse, and for others a blessing. The coca plant has been cultivated for thousands of years by the people of the Andes. It has served as nourishment, medicine, a sacrificial offering and means of communication with the gods. The coca plant has been stigmatized since the banning of its infamous derivative cocaine one hundred years ago. In 1961 the coca leaf was added to the list of dangerous and thus forbidden substances by the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Yet, in the 1980s a veritable boom in cocaine consume and demand occurred in the industrialized countries, especially in the USA, leading to an expansion of the coca growing areas in Bolivia, Peru, and Columbia. The war on drugs has been raging for two decades in the Andes. Today Bolivia is less dependant upon cocaine export than it is on U.S. development aid. Nevertheless, a long-term, sustainable solution for the drug problem is not in sight. Military repression merely serves to relocate the problem of the cultivation of illegal drug crops without reducing actual production. A side effect of the anti-drug policies in Bolivia has also been the strengthening of coca farmers" unions. Meanwhile, the cocaleros have gained the status of one of the strongest social movements in the whole of Latin America. They underscore their political demands by organizing road blockades, protest marches and hunger strikes. In the past, the MAS leadership often had to be consulted on central political decisions in order to avoid repercussions such as the blocking of major traffic junctions which threatened to paralyze economic exchange on a national level. Despite the strong position that the coca farmers hold, international politics do not deviate from their hard line; the coca leaf remains prohibited.



     "Oro Verdeâ? was initiated in 2003 as an independent film project by Sarah Jung, Ren Peralta, and Christian Keil. The documentary is based upon Christian Keil"s graduate thesis on the topic of "Coca in Boliviaâ? at the University of Tbingen"s Geographic Institute. On-site filming took place in the summer of 2004. The film aims to provide an informative, authentic perspective and most importantly to reexamine persistent stereotypes. Coca is not cocaine and Bolivia is not Columbia.