When we began filming in 2002 it was thought that Bolivia was going through a political and social process that would impact on the history of more than 500 million Latin-American people.
The experience Chile had with the "Chicago boys" during the Pinochet regime in the middle of the 70"s was also extended in the 80"s to the whole of Latin America.
In the case of Bolivia the introduction of the neo-liberal model was accomplished in 1985. Hundreds of thousands of miners become unemployed from one day to the next followed by thousands of other industrial workers.
This model was then consecrated by law and the country's industries and public services were sold off and ended.
During the 1990s in Bolivia as in the rest of the continent, a large number of social movements began to rise up that would eventually become the main protagonists in a process of political change. The rigid implementation of this model was unable to stop the increase of poverty in the country. The
popular movements expelled several elected presidents.
The "cocaleros" (a name given to the Bolivian farmers working in the coca plantations) cultivate the coca leaves, which have been used traditionally for rituals and medication for thousands of years. Many of the cocalero farmers are ex miners. In 1995 the unions confronted the government and the DEA
(Drug Enforcement Agency - an American anti-drugs organization). A young Aymara leader from the Chapare region of Bolivia called Evo Morales, becomes a cocalero Member of the Parlament supported by "MAS" (Movimiento al Socialismo - Movement to Socialism) a federation of social groups which brought
together farmers, unions, businesses and left wing organizations.
At the beginning of 2002, Evo Morales was expelled from congress following some unrest and confrontations between the cocaleros and the armed forces which were supported by the USA. In June of the same year Evo Morales was chosen as candidate for the Republican presidency, however he was defeated by
less than 2% by Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada a multi-millionaire businessman brought up in Chicago (USA).
Following a revolt against the government in October 2003, the elected president fled the country in an armed forces helicopter to the City of Santa Cruz however before he boarded a plane to take him back to the USA, he decided to sent his official resignation by email!
The so-called "Guerra del Gas" (war of the gas) caused more than 70 fatalities - victims of government repression. In a brief summary Evo Morale declared: "...the world must realize that humanity's worst enemy is capitalism. This is what instigates up rises like ours, and rebellion against the system,
against the neo-liberal model, which is the representation of a savage form of capitalism. If the nations" governments are not guaranteeing minimum health, education, and food then they are violating the most fundamental of human rights". The objective of the revolt was not to take over the government,
but to stop the exportation of Bolivian Gas, the second largest reserve of gas in the continent after Venezuela. The Bolivan social movement asked for the return and ownership of the countries hydrocarbon previously handed over by Sanchez de Losa to foreign companies. For the Bolivian people this natural
wealth was a way to escape underdevelopment and poverty. At the same time they also demanded the setting up of a general constituency.
The vice president, Carlos Mesa, took over the government for an interim period and made a commitment to begin a gas referendum and to summon a general constituency.
President Mesa refused to support the law that allowed the Bolivian government to recover all its underground wealth. In June 2005 the second gas war conflict began. Facing social pressure Mesa resigned, the popular movement demanded that the president of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze,
assumed the presidency. The country was now on the brink of civil war.
The new president had six months to call a general election. On the 18th February 2005, Evo Morales won the election with a majority of 54% of the votes. For the first time in Bolivia an indigenous man acquired power. He then became the second president ever to be elected by an absolute majority in
the country's history. In January of 2006 Evo Morales was officially declared president of Bolivia.