Thursday, July 26, 2007

Life and Debt

I just finished watching a good movie just now. It was another rental from Netflix and another documentary. The title is "Life and Debt". I added this to my list of movies quite some time ago and I really wasn't even sure what it was about, other than it said something about the IMF and the WTO (International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization).
Turns out, it was more about Jamaica than anything. It was not a happy film either. It was showing how behind that curtain that we the tourists see there is a country in dire trouble and poverty. The movie goes on to try and explain some of the problems (both in the past and the present) that keeps these people living in poverty.
I have to be honest, and say that I struggled with the movie on two fronts... the language... many of the people being interviewed had a heavy Jamaican accent. I did pretty well with some of it (I guess all my Reggae music helped in that sense), but lots went over my head. Unfortunately it was not subtitled either. The second part that I had problems with was understanding some of the politics.
What I did find interesting was many of the harsh critisims of the USA (rightly so). Some of the stories I had no idea. For example, Almost ALL of the food that the people of Jamaica eat (along with the tourists) comes from Florida and the USA. SO many of their basic needs of life are imported. And things that don't make sense either... For example... There were farmers who were milking their cows and selling the milk to the locals. Then the USA started importing powdered milk at cheaper prices. With many of the people living in poverty, they started buying the powdered milk products. To the point, where the local farmers would end up flushing their milk down the drain on a weekly basis! Pretty soon, all the local dairy farmers went out of business and sold their cows for meat. Now that the competition was eliminated, the powdered milk companies started raising their prices! And now the Dairy Farmers are not able to re-establish the farms they once had. So sad and So wrong.
It was strange watching this movie in another sense... It showed the real dangers in how this country became a consumerist country, much to the detriment of the people. I couldn't help but make similar analogies to us here in the USA. A recent story I read about how a man in Virginia went to his local supermarket to buy some apple juice. He got home and saw that it said "made in China". I couldn't figure out how Virginia that once was the WORLDS supplier of apples, is now buying their Apple juice from China. Long story short, China sold it for cheaper. I can see the dangers that we are facing as a consumerist nation and the same road that we are on as Jamaica is, except on a much larger scale.
In spite of my struggles to watch this movie, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in taking a vacation to Jamaica (It will probably make you not want to go though), or anyone who is interested in Consumerism.
Link to the official website here.
Link to an interview with the Director Stephanie Black here.

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