Life and Debt

  I’d like you to watch this film:  Life and Debt, about development in Jamaica:

After you’ve watched the video, I’d like you to answer these questions:

For this assignment, please answer in your own words and use your best college-level writing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use quotes, but I’m interested in reading your interpretation of the video’s material. You don’t need to cite anything from this video or from my lecture slides.  Anything else, including the Wikipedia article on Structural Adjustment Programs (Links to an external site.), please cite. I’d suggest that you watch my lecture video before you watch Life and Debt, because I explain some of the concepts that you’re supposed to write about.

Life and Debt: Questions

Often discussions about less wealthy nations (also called “Third World,” “developing nations” or the “periphery”) focus on conflict and poverty without analyzing the root causes. The documentary film Life and Debt chronicles the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s exploitation of Jamaica’s debt crisis. The film features interviews with former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley and IMF Deputy Director Stanley Fischer.

Answer the following questions as you view the documentary.

  1. From what country did Jamaica gain its independence? What happened to Jamaica after it gained its independence in 1962?
  2. Why was the IMF created? When was it created?
  3. Why did former Jamaican Prime Minister Manley eventually go to the IMF for money?
  4. What were the terms of the loan he was able to get from the IMF? What conditions were imposed?
  5. What is another term for the conditions placed upon a country in order to obtain a loan from the IMF or the World Bank?
  6. Why would the IMF impose free trade conditions with their loans? What might be the positive and negative consequences of those conditions?



  1. Why did the IMF insist on devaluation of Jamaican currency and what has been the impact on the Jamaican economy and the people of Jamaica?
  2. Why did the IMF insist on high interest rates in Jamaica (over 21-40%)?  What was the impact of this policy on farmers in Jamaica?
  3. What was the Lome Agreement?  Why did the U.S. protest this agreement to the WTO?
  4. What happened to the banana industry in Jamaica?
  5. What happened to the poultry industry in Jamaica?
  6. What happened to the dairy industry in Jamaica?
  7. What is a “free zone?”
  8. What type of work do workers in the Kingston free zone do?  How much did workers in the free zone earn?
  9. How does globalization (like the spread of McDonald’s) affect farmers in Jamaica?