K. Beckham- Week 6- Consequences of Globalization

(Prompt 2)

At the beginning of the film “Life and Debt” a Jamaican citizen can be seen walking and singing a song, one line goes “Destruction of our soul is vanity”. Based on the film, I think this describes the experience and attitude of many Jamaicans towards globalization and the global economy.

Globalization involves the integration of different nations and supports international trade. With the example of Jamaica, it can often leave smaller economic countries in a worse position despite the way globalization is made to seem all-around positive.

The film juxtaposes foreign tourists and their five star resort experience of Jamaica with residents who have grown up there and live their day-to-day lives seeing the consequences of globalization.

A tourist may come and eat a Jamaican banana and think of its “exoticness” and enjoy their vacation and have the privilege of not knowing the politics around bananas. The banana market is one example shown in the film of how globalization has resulted in insecurity for humans and the environment. As described in the documentary, farmers were the backbone of Jamaican economy. However, the United States is able to sell cheaper products in Jamaica. That, in part, has led to Jamaica being changed in the new global economy. In the past banana farmers in Jamaica were able to support families, in fact bananas were referred to as ‘green gold’. Now Chiquita and Dole and other American-owned companies control 95% of the banana market. More restrictions were placed on Jamaica with globalization ideology that have prevented Jamaica from being more self-sufficient.

What has been the source of some of these consequences of globalization for Jamaica is the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. The IMF started in 1944 when the war was ending and was meant to support short term borrowing for allies, providing capital for rebuilding of Europe. Because of Jamaica being a previous colony of the United Kingdom, they have always been part of someone else’s power structure. This trend of control of colonized countries continued to limit Jamaica’s ability to provide for themselves through conditions on loans that led Jamaica into more debt.

3 thoughts on “K. Beckham- Week 6- Consequences of Globalization

  1. I really like how you talked about the other side of the video and how they tourists know nothing of the troubles that Jamaicans deal with on a day to day basis. It was interesting to watch a film that looked like it was taped in the 70’s, it makes me wonder if anything has changed for their farmers and economy. You mention that the tourists on vacation tastes bananas that are exotic, but if they were to come from Europe these would be normal bananas. It makes me wonder if the United States wishes to control most territories in production of anything, like the British once looked to control most places for their territory. This is ironic to think about. You mention how Jamaica has gotten entangled with the IMF. While they have borrowed money in order to support their agriculture etc., because of exchange rates and the growing of the economic world their debt has gotten larger and unable to be paid for causing them to stay a third world country.

  2. Originally, Jamaica produced 90,000 tons of bananas and had a tariff free export to Europe. Yet American owned companies like Chiquita and Dole believed that Jamaica should not get tariff free export to Europe, as it would be preferential and against the WTO. Just like you stated, restrictions like these are reasons why Jamaica is having trouble being self-sufficient. Another example Jamaica at the expense of globalization is the dairy market. In 1992, Jamaica agreed to a loan of $50 million from the Inter-American Development bank to help boost agriculture and manufacturing. Yet this loan also stated that Jamaica had to “abandon any forms of local subsidies, and should abandon any control of import of milk powder, etc.” You mention the IMF, World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank being the source of consequential globalization, but the WTO is also a factor as it regulates international trade, and can change trade agreements and effect a countries economy, like it did in Jamaica.

  3. While Jamaica has not always been part of another country’s power structure, they did not have much choice when Great Britain took them as a colony. Nor have they had much say when super powers have tried to exploit their resources.
    The World Trade Organization has a big impact on countries since they serve as the judge for trade disputes. They also have the power to agree with or veto a country’s request for tariffs or trade restrictions.
    The difference in what tourists see of a Jamaica versus what reality of living there is shocking. Tourism is a huge part of Jamaica and important for the economy. Guests are often only allowed in designated areas around the resort and asked not to leave the safety of the resort. If a tourist left the resort, they would see that much of the population lives in poverty, that workers are not fairly paid, and that many of the beaches are littered with debris.

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