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Life and Debt (2001)

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Documentary look at the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture.



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Credited cast:
Belinda Becker ...
Narrator (voice)
Buju Banton ...
Himself - Singer
Horst Köhler ...
Himself - Director, International Monetary Fund (archive footage) (as Horst Kohler)
Michael Manley ...
Himself - Former Prime Minister of Jamaica
Stanley Fischer ...
Himself - Deputy Director International Monetary Fund
Michael Witter ...
Himself - Professor of Economics, University of West Indies (as Dr. Michael Witter)
David Coore ...
Himself - Former Minister of Finance, Jamaica
Himself - President of the United States (archive footage)
Jean-Bertrand Aristide ...
Himself - President, Haiti
Yami Bolo ...
Himself - Singer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tom Lipetzky ...
Himself - U.S. Potato Board (archive footage)
News Anchor
Jerry J. Rawlings ...
Himself - Former President, Ghana (archive footage) (as Jerry Rawlings)


Documentary look at the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 February 2003 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Life & Debt  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,902 (USA) (3 August 2001)


$241,297 (USA) (22 March 2002)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Narrator: "Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Not too long after, it was settled by human rubbish from Europe, who used enslaved but noble and exalted human beings from Africa to satisfy their desire for wealth and power. Eventually the masters left, in a kind of way; eventually the salves were freed, in a kind of way. Of course, the whole thing is, once you cease to be master you're no longer human rubbish, you're just a human being and all the things that adds up to; so too with ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special heartfelt gratitude to the interviewees who share the truth with such eloquence. See more »


Referenced in The North Pole Deception (2010) See more »


Island in the Sun
Written by Irving Burgie and Harry Belafonte
Copyright © 1956; renewed 1984 Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company, Inc. (ASCAP)/Lord Burgess Music Publishing Company (ASCAP)/Dreamworks Songs (ASCAP)/Clara Music Publishing Company (ASCAP)
Worldwide rights for Lord Burgess Music Publishing Company and Dreamworks Songs administered by Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company,
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
See more »

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User Reviews

Great insight to the upheavals in Jamaica since 1970's
29 May 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

To suggest that Jamaicans are stupid enough to hate the one huge source of Revenue left open to them for economic survival - the American - tourist - suggests Jamaicans are only capable of Knee-jerk analysis.

Crucially, people go on holiday to largely experience a different cultural environment. When you return from holiday, how boring it would be to tell someone about what you experienced, if it is no different from a holiday you could have had in another part of the U.S.A/Canada/Europe etc.. Decimating cultures and economies outside of the U.S.A. and still expect to have a lovely, exhilarating and refreshing holiday seems to be contradictory. If the bullying persists unchecked, eventually there is no other life experience except a U.S.A one. At what point in this farce do the major commercial and political forces in the USA/Europe etc. take responsibility for their actions, think they have gone too far, and seek to help repair some of the damage caused by their actions. This does not even take into account the money "they" made from the "african slave trade". Why is it acceptable for the "Jews" to discuss the recent past "holocast" and "bondage" in Egypt (centries ago), but "Africans in The West" must not mention how they have been ripped off for 500+ years, and "what about reparations" - just like the Jewish people after "World War Two".

The fact is this film shows what actually happened to Jamaica, and who were the "Players" in attacking an essentially defenceless people. With a Socialist Government in Jamaica being hammered by the enormous hike in oil prices and the huge cost of training doctors, engineers etc. to keep the country going in the 1970's - while these same essential key workers were continually enticed to North America, the Jamaican Government tried to be neighbourly with its neighbour Cuba - mutual interest (only 80 miles away). The bilateral assistance, as I understand it was for Jamaica to help Cuba develop its Tourist industry, and Cuba help out with essential skilled people (doctors, engineers etc.). No rational Jamaican could ever contemplate THE PEOPLE ever accepting a Totalitarian state in Jamaica, if they ever understood the lasting legacy of the "Slave Trade in Jamaica". USA power brokers did not see it this way and chose to decimate the Jamaican economy. Can the definition of freedom really be restricted to acting as a mimic of a citizen of U.S.A.?

As pragmatic people Jamaicans continue to find ways to progress. Unfortunately with the introduction of foreign "organised crime/state secret services" (1970's)to ensure the toppling of the Jamaican Socialist government, Jamaican criminals were trained in "cocain" trafficking, mechanics of illegal gun purchase and use etc., hence the current so-called "Yardies". The more socialist of the two main political parties has been entrusted with governing Jamaica for more than the last two terms showing who the people trust more to guide their country, despite the hardships.

The fraud exposed in this film is that USA can still choose to be an honourable "Big Brother" to Jamiaca, Cuba, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad, Brazil, Chile, Venezuala, etc., etc.; without appearing to act as a loutish bully with no honest stance towards democracy.

What is the point preaching NO GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES as acceptable, while hugely subsidising USA Agri-business (especially milk - see film comments). The world is asking USA to grow up and stop making itself look like it is a pirate nation that is so morally bankrupt it does not believe it matters that smaller countries see it as a bunch of LIARS. This film tries to encourage USA to see that there is an alternative - an honest, honourable one.

This film shows that we the Jamaicans still offer the hand of friendship to our American neighbours, and as demonstrated by Colin Powel (Jamaican upbringing and ethics) have a basic decency which can, when allowed to grow naturally MAKE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL OF US. USA promoting organised crime has once again caused problems for all of us.

A previous contributer made one sensible comment - why should a USA agri-business need to smash the remaining 5% of business in other countries producing economic refugees and the expansion of organised crime cartels smuggling people to hidden economies in "Developed Economies" - Europe and North America? Why promote getting rid of stable governments to produce more refugees? More piracy ? To cream off the highly trained professionals, business brains,etc. to the USA economy? The small countries then have to borrow more money (from USA, "World Bank" etc.) to train more professionals just to keep the country going. The USA institutions that these people go to work for would happily pay (minimal) compensation if the USA Government insisted on them honouring their moral obligations.

The film asks the question - "Is there a sensible point to perpetuating such a USA Foreign policy?" Jamaicans wish sense to prevail -THE POINT OF THE FILM.

It is still a mystery to most Jamaicans why some USA business leaders appear to be more interested in excess CONTROL of other peoples economies, culture, views etc. rather than mutual benefit - exchange of ideas - bilateral trade - mutual growth. Do they really believe the summit of human existence is the "American Dream". But if you do not live in America (USA) would you not have the "Jamaican Dream", the "French Dream", the "South African Dream", the Russian Dream", the Chinese Dream", the "Irish Dream", the "Chilean Dream", the "Cuban Dream", the "Iranian Dream", the "United Nations Dream" etc. etc. On what basis does the "American Dream" have to be foisted on the weaker nations, where only a one-sided dialogue is acceptable?

Don't these "power brokers" get bored talking to themselves?

8 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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