Life & Debt

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The documentary Life and Debt portrays a true example of the impact economic globalization can have on a developing country. When most Americans think about Jamaica, we think about the beautiful beaches, warm weather, and friendly people that make it a fabulous vacation spot. This movie shows the place in a different light, by showing a pressuring problem of debt. The everyday survival of many Jamaicans is based on the economic decisions of the United States and other powerful foreign countries.

The film opens with camera shots portraying Jamaica as the beautiful and carefree place that most Americans view it as. The vast majority are oblivious to the fact that the delicious food they indulge in on their voyage probably came off a ship from Miami.

In the 1970s, the country's former prime minister signed a loan agreement which ultimately led Jamaica to over four billion dollars in debt to the World Bank and IMF. This ultimately caused a sinking economy of low valued imports and sweatshops are destroying local businesses and agriculture. In the video, we see workers who are working gruesome six-day-a-week work schedules to receive the legal minimum wage of only $30 in US money for the entire week. Many women have protested against the poor compensation, and have been fired from their jobs; being placed on a blacklist preventing them from ever getting work again. The country's ports are lined with the factories of high profile companies, all which are available to wealthy corporations at low cost. It's there that these companies can bring in shiploads of goods tax free. The items are processed or developed and then shipped directly back out of the country. The film mentions Hanes as one of the beneficiaries, who eventually relocated to find even cheaper work elsewhere. No matter how long or little each corporations lasts in this Free Trade Zone, Jamaica is benefiting very little by the presence of the factories.

The film also shows a chicken plant which was...
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