Jamaica Kincaid’s text “A Small Place” serves as one of the primary narrative sources in the eye-opening documentary “Life and Debt”. Originally released in 2001, this documentary is an oldie-but a goodie. (An oldie in so much as it’s undeniable how much our world has changed over the past fifteen years…) Focusing on Jamaica, the country, and the impact globalization has had on this island nation, it’s incredible to look back on what was, what could have been, and what now is. — Specifically with regards to the state of the banana industry.
Originally granted tax-free privileges by the British
government, via the Lome Convention, Jamaicans stood in good, but cautious stead, exporting a total of what one banana farm in Central America produces annually. United States involvement, through the WTO, called for a dismantlement of these policies. Forcing Jamaican banana farmers to compete against Chiquita Banana and Dole, when Jamaica’s climate and resources are not on par with those other businesses, has shrunk “the number of small banana growers on the island…from 45,000 to 3,000”.
In theory, the IMF is intended to help developing nations find their voices, and advocate for beneficial policies, amidst more developed nations. In reality, “Life and Debt” proves how the IMF has only increased the struggle for survival amongst Jamaicans. (Also, “Life and Debt” does a much better job at illustrating these points than my untrained mind has attempted to do.)
According to the Banana Board, banana exports ceased in Jamaica in 2008—a mere seven years after the movie’s release. Here is a link to the film’s trailer. I urge you all to watch it, and do some individual research! I am only just beginning to understand the roots of this issue, and would love for someone more informed to give me a status update. “Life and Debt” Trailer