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Depiction of Life in Jamaica in The Documentary Life and Debt

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Life and Debt, a film by Stephanie Black shows the bad side of Jamaica that tourists and foreigners don’t get to see on their day to day life. The bad side being the economy and what it has done to the citizens of the country. Jamaica is no longer in control of their own country, instead, they are controlled by the economic decisions made by the United States and other foreign countries. This destruction of their economy was caused by the economic globalization on a small and still developing country. The film shows how life in Jamaica is not what it seems to outsiders of the country, from the massive amount of debt caused by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank, to the inability to create and maintain key sectors that a country would need for a self-sustaining future.

The Documentary, created in 2001, dates to the time Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962. The root of the problem was the 1970 energy crisis, the prices of fuel-based imports was soaring, and the country needed to take out a loan to help cover these insane costs. In 1976 Private banks had no place in making such a loan, so Jamaica needed to turn to the World Bank and the IMF. This was the start of a major downfall, in the beginning of the process, the President wanted to make a long-term plan that would create a self-sustaining environment for the country and progress the economy making it flourish. Instead the IMF insisted on taking a short-term route to repay the loan, IMF’s plan was to stop funding certain areas such as health care, local development of agriculture and education. It is a necessity for a country to have proper funding in these areas if they want to make their country and citizens last. With no other option but to take the loan the Jamaican government agreed, this would be the beginning of the end for the citizens of Jamaica.

Once the government took the loan they had no other choice but to attenuate their currency, this caused Jamaica to depend more on imports then local products, this had an extreme effect on the citizens and small business owners of Jamaica the film shows how because of these imports their agriculture sector has suffered enormously, the example used in the film is how the farming villages that gave food out for all the citizens around it are now basically non-existent since the heavy dependency on importing food from the U.S. in addition to this, the film explains that the imports of powdered milk have ruined in dairy industry as well for Jamaica. Again, it goes to where they would keep the farm animals and as of no surprise to the viewer, these are also ruined just like the farm land was. The film goes even further with showing a chicken farm, again destroyed by the importation of low-quality chicken from the United States. Jamaica’s last hope was through the exportation of the banana, but again this time they were beat out by countries that could produce the banana at a cheaper cost to importers than them. With Jamaica’s agriculture sector destroyed Jamaica was left entirely dependent on the imports from other countries which has made it near impossible to create an agriculture sector like they once had.

In the film the viewer gets to see a scene where a tour guide is talking too vacationers and warning them about the potential dangers of the thieves that lurk in the streets. The abundance of thieves was caused by Jamaica’s in ability to create a job market so the citizens prey on unsuspecting tourists. Although, this has created a job market, the private security sector. This sector is now growing fast because of how many thieves there are. While all countries no matter how wealthy they are will always have thieves, the only sector that is currently expanding is private security. This is a big red flag for Jamaica, this shows that the citizens have given up their morality and turned to stealing to feed for their families. This demonstrates a massively failed economy. 

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