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Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

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  • Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

    Documentarian shoots from the hip inside Jamaica's debtor's prison

    By GIOVANNI FAZIO

    Stephanie Black was first noticed for her documentary "H2 Worker," which won both Best Documentary and Best Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. The film looked at the plight of Caribbean men who are brought to Florida each year on temporary worker visas (the "H2") to harvest sugar cane for American Sugar Corporations. Visiting Jamaica to shoot a segment for this doc, she "fell in love with the country" and moved there soon after.

    Filmmaker Stephanie Black

    After working as an editor for a while, she became involved in the music scene, making friends with the Marley clan and directing music videos for Ziggy Marley, Buju Banton, Snow and others.

    She spoke with The Japan Times, in an accent somewhere between Queens and Kingston, on many of the issues her film addresses. Right off the bat, though, she noted her surprise at how ill-informed Japanese interviewers were regarding globalization. Surprising, she thought, given that Japan is second only to the United States in voting power at the International Monetary Fund.

    How did this documentary come into being?

    I didn't go to Jamaica to make a film about structural adjustment. I really didn't know anything about the IMF. I thought they were like the Red Cross. From living in Jamaica, I came to understand what it's like to be in a country under a structural adjustment policy. And then I became very angry, understanding what I'd never been taught before.

    Do you think Jamaica's example is representative of a larger phenomenon?

    Yeah, definitely. Specifically, in terms of the impact of the IMF and the World Bank, because their prescriptions are the same for every country that borrows from them. You know, the film was invited to festivals in Brazil and Argentina, and people were hysterical, in tears, crying, saying, "This is our country, this is what's happening here."

    The tourists in the film don't come off looking so good.

    Well, the tourists were not the enemy in the film. The tourists are stylized -- they don't speak; they're metaphors. They come to Jamaica, and they stay within the confines of the hotel. That was comparable to me, to all of us in the United States -- very often we don't have an understanding of what our policies are doing outside the country. Lack of information is a victimizing force, and that's something we're all affected by.

    Tourism is really designed to keep you in a bubble, cut off from the culture.

    Right. And there's also the element, in a country like Jamaica, where they have to re-invent themselves for the tourists. Like, the activities you see in the film -- there's nothing Jamaican about a beer-chugging contest. And there's a soulessness to it, too. Like before, maybe you could travel and go to a country, walk into a bar, and see people dance, and maybe try that on yourself. It would be a more organic exchange of culture and experience. But there, you have the person who comes to the hotel and says, "OK, let's learn the Jamaican dance move!" and it's all aerobic-style. And the soul of it, I feel, is taken out. And when the soul isn't there, there's a certain callousness that can develop, and a lack of human exchange.

    These hotels, though, aren't all that different form the "gated communities" in the States. It's scary to see this pattern replicating itself all over the world.

    Right. And what's interesting is travel agents actually tell people, "You must stay in the all-inclusive hotel." And then when the tourists go to the hotel, the hotel employees instruct the people not to go far from the hotel, that it's dangerous. So somehow this mentality is propelled.

    So what about ex-Prime Minister Michael Manley? He came to power on an anti-IMF platform -- what caused him to make a deal with the devil?

    In a general sense, he had no other choice. He had a country that had been colonized for 400 years. He wanted to develop the country in a way more oriented toward the people, because it's been developed so much to meet the needs of Britain. All the raw resources were exported, what was consumed was imported. He needed to start building an infrastructure, building roads, schools, etc. [and to] rebuild the sugar factories, because when the British left, they just let them run down. You need capital, and where can you go to get it? Commercial banks won't lend you money unless you have the seal of approval of the IMF.

    Manley, actually, was pretty ingenious. He went to the oil-producing nations -- this was in the early '70s -- and they had a lot of cash, and he suggested maybe the Third World can help each other out. Lend us the money, and we'll pay you back at a good interest rate. But they said no and put their money in Barclay's in London. It's safer.

    For a long time he contemplated putting the country on a real austere program, but at a certain point, he just couldn't do it. Like he says in the film, there was no wheat to make bread, no fuel, nothing, so he was forced to turn to the IMF. But apart from Cuba, there's no country at that level of development that hasn't had to borrow from the IMF.

    What were the initial loans used for, and why didn't it produce anything?

    The IMF is short-term loans, and the World Bank more long-term loans, and what happens is you start borrowing money from the IMF, then that gives you the OK to get the commercial bank loans, but then it's like you're borrowing money to pay back [the initial loans.] You have to devalue the currency and privatize at the same time, do all the things the IMF is saying, and you get yourself into this cycle. The IMF considers the success stories as countries that no longer borrow from them. So that's the irony. Jamaica is "a success story." It's just paying back its loan to the IMF, it's not borrowing any more money.

    Manley was followed by Edward Seaga, and Seaga was a Reagan man and took billions of dollars [in loans], and really sunk the country further into debt. Manley didn't take all that much, but Seaga followed 100 percent the United States' line, which is "take more, take more."

    Did the IMF's Stanley Fischer display any understanding of the reality of Jamaica's situation? Or did he just not want to acknowledge that?

    I think that the IMF believes that what they're doing works. But first of all, to interview someone at that level at the IMF, you have to submit all your questions in advance. And obviously if they show any kind of perspective, you won't be granted the interview. So, the questions are, like, why does the IMF impose structural adjustment? Why does the IMF require the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar? Just all very basic questions. The feeling I got when interviewing him was, it's a pity we don't live in a world where you can actually say what you believe and have an honest discourse. Because if you do that, you'll get thrown out. At the end, I kind of said, Manley felt that borrowing from the IMF was the worst decision he ever made, and it was like, bye.

    You can't do follow-up questions?

    No. And they have six people in the room listening, and behind the wall. It's really strange.

    After the experience of Argentina, defaulting on its debt, and now the rise of leftist governments in Brazil and Venezuela, do you think there could be some sort of movement against the IMF in Latin America?

    Yes, definitely, there's a very strong movement against the IMF and the World Bank. Whether or not it can achieve concrete change, that's the question. The meeting that's coming up in July of the G-8, debt cancellation is very high on the list, but they keep talking about it, they don't take any concrete action. Is it all just some PR? They've learned very well how to take the language of their critics and make it part of their presentation. [World Bank President James] Wolfensohn and [U2 vocalist/activist] Bono hanging out together. I mean, I think that helps the World Bank's image more than it represents any concrete change. This July will be a true test of whether their money is where their mouth is, literally.

    The situation you documented in the free zones was appalling.

    All the free zones have actually shut down and gone to the Dominican Republic and Haiti because they can pay those workers lower wages. The USAID put a lot of money into free zones and encouraging companies to go into free-zone manufacturing, so a crazy amount of our tax dollars went into free-zone promotion. It was like science fiction; you couldn't make this stuff up. It was funny: You had the real Tommy Hilfiger goods being manufactured in the free zone, then you had the Chinese knock-offs being dumped into the country -- which is what everyone is wearing -- and then you had Chinese workers being flown in to sew the real Tommy Hilfiger stuff.

    I agree with your critique, but what do you see as the solution?

    The [film's] ending is a testament to the survival instincts of the Jamaicans, but as for a grand solution, I did not have one. Now I think buying local and producing local in every territory around the Earth is the most important thing to put the brakes on this. As long as people support their local farmers and local producers and make a decision that, even if it does cost a little bit more, it's worth it in the long run.

    Environmentally and health-wise too, it makes a lot of sense.

    Our voting power doesn't seem to hold much clout these days, but our buying power does. I think that's the strongest tool we have as an international community, not to support this process.

    Whatever happened with the McDonald's lawsuit?

    The good news is that the Jamaican McDonald's still exists, and the American McDonald's has left Jamaica. It shut down, people didn't like the taste. That's the good news. It makes sense -- they have really good food in the Caribbean.

    The Japan Times: July 13, 2005
    (C) All rights reserved

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print...20050713a5.htm
    Monkey muss kno weh im gwine put im tail before im order trowsiz.

  • #2
    Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

    I just saw the film recently, excellent.
    OM MANI PADME HUM

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

      I saw it too and it was a disgrace what this woman has done with the truth.

      As a Jamaican who has seen the progression of Jamaican politics since independence in 1962, her one sided and biased assessment of Jamaica's financial woes and who is to be blamed is downright disgusting and libelous.

      The country flourished under Bustamante and Shearer of the JLP in the 60's then was crushed under Michael Manley's PNP in the 70's.

      A revival of our economy and the revitalization of small businesses was seen in the 80's under Edward Seaga's excellent leadership and once again the economy was out of the red.

      All our gains were short lived when the poorer class, who no longer hungy and broke, voted the PNP back in. It has been a steep downward slide since then, where the economy has been reduced to nothing under the PNP's mismanagement, plundering and rape.

      Now after nearly 15 years of running (more like ruining) the Jamaican government, the PNP under PJ Patterson has sunk us into the worse crisis this country has ever been in, with poverty and violence escalated to the most atrocious levels ever seen.

      That chick is obviously pro-PNP/pro-Michael Manley and therefore not credible enough to give a clear unbiased assesment of Jamaica's economic woes. She need to shut up and stop exploiting our country's problems!
      You are what you eat!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

        Originally posted by MaasDee:
        [qb]
        That chick is obviously pro-PNP/pro-Michael Manley and therefore not credible enough to give a clear unbiased assesment of Jamaica's economic woes. [/qb]
        [img]/forums/images/graemlins/704555_dwl.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/704555_dwl.gif[/img]
        When its hot in the jungle of peace I go swimming in the ocean of love.....

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

          As a Jamaican who had the opportunity to study and teach economics,I must say I see the period that preceeded the 70's as an economic failure,though you may see it as progressive politically.

          Now let me explain why I see it as an economic failure.
          I also see the coultries tha are being labeled as economic success,also as economic failures.
          Economies like Singapore,cayman,Barbados etc.
          The reasin why they are economic failures,is because their economic are systems are no different from that of Jamaica prior to the 70's and they are jusr as susuptable to the capital flight that was the cause of the Jamaican economic woes.
          All these countries are,are repositry safe haven for other peoples money.
          Those funds are very mobile,and will dosappear,overnight,llike happened recently that caused the Asian economic crash.

          These countries have the deposits,but they can't invest in their infrastructure to support an economic program that will docersify them from the dependence of the tav shelters.
          You see tax shelters,is based on the same principles that governs low income labor economies. That is they race to the bottom. The system forces each economy to compete with the other on seeing which country will collect the lowest yo keep the business. Sooner or later,they will be charging so little that,it becomes unprofitable,to offer the services,and they they will have no other induastry to fall back on.

          Jamaica was in the same system during the 60's,and as soon as they realize that the income from their production could not support their oil bill,and raised the fees,the capital flight took place.
          No country that adopt such economic system will be able to really be a sovrein country.
          Economics is not a philosophy,ir is a science,ad as a science econoimic systems procuse predictable results,but,the najoriry is fooled inro believing that seemingly failed systems are not intentional.
          This is done be teaching that economics is an art,but it is as much an art as mathematics.
          Join me as members of the church of LOVE,and let us change the world, one good deed at a time.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

            Well I was just a student back then but I was old and sensible enough to remember that the Jamaican Pound was stronger than the US dollar and I also remember the US$ equivalent to 78cents Jamaican in 1968 when we switched from Pounds to dollars.

            Aa a young nation coming out of colonialism into independence it was a landmark occasion and there was some economic ****ing and settling but in no way comparable to any time under the PNP. We had our exports of Bauxite, banana, sugar, coffee, rum etc at our peak then and hence the strength of our currency. Busta wuda tun ina him grave fi see the Ja$65 to US$1 that we now have!

            Somebody needs to kunk some a dem jerk ina dem heads that claim seh dem running our country. Set a teef dem!
            You are what you eat!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt



              Supply & Demand ... [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

              Thanks Doc
              but ah jus fell something is missing
              Fiyah Bun ..

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                Originally posted by MaasDee:
                [qb] Well I was just a student back then but I was old and sensible enough to remember that the Jamaican Pound was stronger than the US dollar and I also remember the US$ equivalent to 78cents Jamaican in 1968 when we switched from Pounds to dollars.

                Aa a young nation coming out of colonialism into independence it was a landmark occasion and there was some economic ****ing and settling but in no way comparable to any time under the PNP. We had our exports of Bauxite, banana, sugar, coffee, rum etc at our peak then and hence the strength of our currency. Busta wuda tun ina him grave fi see the Ja$65 to US$1 that we now have!

                Somebody needs to kunk some a dem jerk ina dem heads that claim seh dem running our country. Set a teef dem! [/qb]
                Where are going to sell .. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
                at what prices .. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
                how much .. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

                market pressures from the big G8 has forced a lot of countries into devaluation ...
                like or not ..
                [img]/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]
                Fiyah Bun ..

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                  By the way, the flight from Jamaica started after Manley came up with his infamous "Democratic Socialism".

                  Adding "democratic" to socialism did not effectually change it from being associated with communism and Manley's hug up relationship to Castro didn't offer any reasonable assurance that it wasn't.

                  People and businesses fled Jamaica like rats on a sinking ship. Jamaica has hardly ever recovered from the mistrust of investors since and the few that returned when Seaga took over, have reaped what they didn't sow because of PJ and his lame set of economists and parlamentarians selling out the place for trump change and pocket money.
                  You are what you eat!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                    Originally posted by Sinco01:
                    [qb]
                    Originally posted by MaasDee:
                    [qb] Well I was just a student back then but I was old and sensible enough to remember that the Jamaican Pound was stronger than the US dollar and I also remember the US$ equivalent to 78cents Jamaican in 1968 when we switched from Pounds to dollars.

                    Aa a young nation coming out of colonialism into independence it was a landmark occasion and there was some economic ****ing and settling but in no way comparable to any time under the PNP. We had our exports of Bauxite, banana, sugar, coffee, rum etc at our peak then and hence the strength of our currency. Busta wuda tun ina him grave fi see the Ja$65 to US$1 that we now have!

                    Somebody needs to kunk some a dem jerk ina dem heads that claim seh dem running our country. Set a teef dem! [/qb]
                    Where are going to sell .. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
                    at what prices .. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
                    how much .. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

                    market pressures from the big G8 has forced a lot of countries into devaluation ...
                    like or not ..
                    [img]/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img] [/qb]
                    The G8 didn't mash up Jamaica's economy, Manley started it by espousing communism and PJ finished it by selling us out and having his friends constantly ripping off what little we had with their various frauds. Every minuit is a new scandal.

                    America did force Britton and other countries to stop buying our produce but only because Manley was sleeping with the enemy.
                    You are what you eat!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                      Originally posted by MaasDee:
                      [qb] Well I was just a student back then but I was old and sensible enough to remember that the Jamaican Pound was stronger than the US dollar and I also remember the US$ equivalent to 78cents Jamaican in 1968 when we switched from Pounds to dollars.

                      Aa a young nation coming out of colonialism into independence it was a landmark occasion and there was some economic ****ing and settling but in no way comparable to any time under the PNP. We had our exports of Bauxite, banana, sugar, coffee, rum etc at our peak then and hence the strength of our currency. Busta wuda tun ina him grave fi see the Ja$65 to US$1 that we now have!

                      Somebody needs to kunk some a dem jerk ina dem heads that claim seh dem running our country. Set a teef dem! [/qb]
                      The Jamaicvan pound was higher in parity to the US dollaryes,but it was split in 2 when the country switched to Ja.dollar.
                      In addition to the reality that the valus of the currency is not a true measurement of economic strength or weakness. All you have to do is to look at the Japanese Yen.

                      There is also a little thing as as the value of the Jamaican currency was actually a the result of the low import factor of the Jamaican economy,then,when it was stronger than the US dollar,as against higher import factors resulting from drastic price shift of goods imported from developed countries,along with drastically reduced or stable prices of exports ot the products the country exported.
                      this is because all prices for goods imported,and our own exports are controlled by the developed countries. The oil ptoducing countries of the midddle east,managed to take control of their exports to an extent,but no other primary producer has been able to decide the price of their export.
                      That is what Manley attempted to increase the price of our primary products,and all hell broke loose.
                      Primary producers in any field of production,represents a middle man position,rarely can one chave control unless they control the the markets for the foinal products.
                      Jamaica is a primary producer,cayman is a promary producer,Barbados is a peimary producer,and all the socalled economic powerhouses,that are not a developed country is and that is why their wealth,wherever,it is is only fleeting.
                      The majority economically challenged,in their enlightened self intrest,take their capital and run,They say it was communism,but unless that is adressed,the world will return to open and legal slavery,in the noyt too distant future.
                      And about "kunking the jerks",it may be the head you view as most unlikely.
                      They say Knowledge is power,but appropiate knowledge is the secret to self determination.
                      Don't watch the value of the dollar,look at the purchasing power of a day's work of the average citizen,because that is the best measurement of where the country's economy is.
                      Join me as members of the church of LOVE,and let us change the world, one good deed at a time.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                        MaasDee you sure know your way around here [img]/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
                        You cannot change the people around you. But you can change the people you are around.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                          Originally posted by Dr.Dudd:
                          [qb]
                          Originally posted by MaasDee:
                          [qb] Well I was just a student back then but I was old and sensible enough to remember that the Jamaican Pound was stronger than the US dollar and I also remember the US$ equivalent to 78cents Jamaican in 1968 when we switched from Pounds to dollars.

                          Aa a young nation coming out of colonialism into independence it was a landmark occasion and there was some economic ****ing and settling but in no way comparable to any time under the PNP. We had our exports of Bauxite, banana, sugar, coffee, rum etc at our peak then and hence the strength of our currency. Busta wuda tun ina him grave fi see the Ja$65 to US$1 that we now have!

                          Somebody needs to kunk some a dem jerk ina dem heads that claim seh dem running our country. Set a teef dem! [/qb]
                          The Jamaicvan pound was higher in parity to the US dollaryes,but it was split in 2 when the country switched to Ja.dollar.
                          In addition to the reality that the valus of the currency is not a true measurement of economic strength or weakness. All you have to do is to look at the Japanese Yen.

                          There is also a little thing as as the value of the Jamaican currency was actually a the result of the low import factor of the Jamaican economy,then,when it was stronger than the US dollar,as against higher import factors resulting from drastic price shift of goods imported from developed countries,along with drastically reduced or stable prices of exports ot the products the country exported.
                          this is because all prices for goods imported,and our own exports are controlled by the developed countries. The oil ptoducing countries of the midddle east,managed to take control of their exports to an extent,but no other primary producer has been able to decide the price of their export.
                          That is what Manley attempted to increase the price of our primary products,and all hell broke loose.
                          Primary producers in any field of production,represents a middle man position,rarely can one chave control unless they control the the markets for the foinal products.
                          Jamaica is a primary producer,cayman is a promary producer,Barbados is a peimary producer,and all the socalled economic powerhouses,that are not a developed country is and that is why their wealth,wherever,it is is only fleeting.
                          The majority economically challenged,in their enlightened self intrest,take their capital and run,They say it was communism,but unless that is adressed,the world will return to open and legal slavery,in the noyt too distant future.
                          And about "kunking the jerks",it may be the head you view as most unlikely.
                          They say Knowledge is power,but appropiate knowledge is the secret to self determination.
                          Don't watch the value of the dollar,look at the purchasing power of a day's work of the average citizen,because that is the best measurement of where the country's economy is. [/qb]
                          DrDudd, I dont know if you are a real doctor and I pray to God you aren't because you'd be the last person I'd come to for a diagnosis.

                          Not trying to put you down because I can respect you as a person but your stance on Jamaica's economy just dont wash and most of your arguments sound like something you just made up because they are too far from the reality I know.

                          Talking about Japan etc might sound deep to the unenlightened but what this has to do with Jamaican politics and economics realy misses me. It sounds like we're talking about two different places.

                          Maybe you should tell all this to PJ, he might make you Minister of Finance. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
                          You are what you eat!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                            As a Jamaican who has seen the progression of Jamaican politics since independence in 1962, her one sided and biased assessment of Jamaica's financial woes and who is to be blamed is downright disgusting and libelous.

                            The country flourished under Bustamante and Shearer of the JLP in the 60's then was crushed under Michael Manley's PNP in the 70's.

                            A revival of our economy and the revitalization of small businesses was seen in the 80's under Edward Seaga's excellent leadership and once again the economy was out of the red.

                            All our gains were short lived when the poorer class, who no longer hungry and broke, voted the PNP back in. It has been a steep downward slide since then, where the economy has been reduced to nothing under the PNP's mismanagement, plundering and rape.

                            Now after nearly 15 years of running (more like ruining) the Jamaican government, the PNP under PJ Patterson has sunk us into the worse crisis this country has ever been in, with poverty and violence escalated to the most atrocious levels ever seen.

                            That chick is obviously pro-PNP/pro-Michael Manley and therefore not credible enough to give a clear unbiased assessment of Jamaica's economic woes. She need to shut up and stop exploiting our country's problems! :---- MassDee


                            Well, well, well all is not lost after all; facts continue to override propaganda, well said MassDee and continue to educate those that see Jamaica and its politics from a distance and have no clue about what they often write about. The few who does are scholars, so watch it, remember these words once go together UWI and WPJ.
                            These are the days of great civilisation when men should think of harmony and not force..Bustamante

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Interest article - Setphanie Black -Life & Debt

                              [QUOTE]Originally posted by Wardob:
                              [qb]
                              Well, well, well all is not lost after all; facts continue to override propaganda, well said MassDee and continue to educate those that see Jamaica and its politics from a distance and have no clue about what they often write about. The few who does are scholars, so watch it, remember these words once go together UWI and WPJ. [/qb][/QUOTTE]


                              I resemble that remark....I only report facts...
                              does seeing jamaica and its politics from a distance affect the truth?
                              You cannot change the people around you. But you can change the people you are around.

                              Comment

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