Life And Debt

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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Belinda Becker, Jamaica Kincaid (narrators)
Director: Stephanie Black

Jamaica, a beautiful island that is all but tranquil. After landing in Montego Bay, you will be greeted by locals proclaiming that they are proud of Jamaica. They drive on the left hand side of the road and yes there is even a McDonalds there. It seems that they have come a long way since breaking away from British rule in 1962. 1962 was also the start of Jamaica’s problem as it was faced with supporting itself financially. How could it possibly compete against the more established economic powers?

Things became worse when the oil crisis hit in the 1970’s and as the economy started to unravel, the government of the day approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial support. IMF’s strict conditions were not going to benefit the Jamaican economy and in 1977, with no other way to pull the country out of a crisis, the Jamaican prime minister signed a deal with IMF. Now Jamaica’s debt is $7 billion and rising.

Most of the food bought in Jamaica is imported from Miami and is usually cheaper than the local goods. Local farmers find that their crops are dwindling, as they cannot compete with the foreign produce. Some view the IMF 1977 contact signing as the worst thing that could happen to the country. Due to the harsh trade agreement, Jamaica now has to accommodate American companies with low paid workers. A Kingston Free Zone was set up near the pier to allow imports to come in. The local workforce would work on the raw materials and then the goods would be shipped back to the US, without having to pay any import tax.

This documentary explores all aspect of how Jamaica life, economy and tourism are all intertwined on the local’s daily life. Jamaicans are aware of how grim the situation is and they know where the blame lays. The documentary is well researched and as this is a proud nation, Jamaicans know in their heart that their country, if it had been given the chance, could have been a greater nation than it is now.

5 out of 6 stars