5/26/2010

Jamaica, Bananas & Free Trade

Of course there's a food connection to what's going on in Jamaica.

As the death toll continues to rise, many wonder why all of a sudden there is such interest in the Caribbean island. Finally, the world is seeing a problem that has been bubbling for a while - by way of trade agreements. I happened upon this great article in the Guardian recently:

...Since 1975, Europe protected Caribbean banana growers. But the largely American interests that controlled the vast banana plantations in Ecuador and Colombia, where workers' rights are at best an afterthought, persuaded the then fledgling Clinton administration, whose election they lavishly funded, to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organisation demanding they overturn this perceived unjust support

For 17 years, the banana wars raged. Then, five months ago, with one eye on huge trade deals between Colombia and Peru, Europe relented.

Compensation for banana farmers in a dozen Caribbean and African countries comes in the form of €190m fund. The money will be paid to Caribbean governments in the form of budget support. In other words, farmers won't see the cash.

The most serious challenge to agriculture in the Caribbean comes as islands face falls in tourism, foreign direct investment and financial services. This after the international community told the islands to pursue these paths.

The decline of the Caribbean banana industry may seem like a sideshow. But abandoned farms together with laid-off financial workers are a seedbed for enveloping the Caribbean economy and political system in a drug morass.

There is evidence of the spread of marijuana cultivation and trafficking, especially in St Vincent where a Marijuana Growers Association was publicly announced, despite the practice being illegal...


I remember my mum telling me stories about going up on a farm near Montego Bay and how everyone in her village had a job doing something related to the banana business. Today those jobs no longer exist. The banana industry is Jamaica's fifth leading revenue earner behind remittances, tourism, bauxite and sugar. However, in recent years with the United States pushing to buy their bananas cheaper (and at the expense of decent worker rights) in South America, along with the devastating hurricanes of late, many Jamaicans are turning to the underground economy to stay alive.

This is where drugs baron Christopher "Dudus" Coke comes in. Of course, I'm not defending what this dude is doing, but he seems to be fulfilling a void among the population's most vulnerable. There is a lot to be said about a situation where there are people willing to defend the drug dealer first. I'm just saying...

From where to where have we come?

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3 Comments:

At Friday, May 28, 2010 5:00:00 AM, Blogger catharine said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Wednesday, October 17, 2012 1:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LAH LAH LAH

 
At Tuesday, February 05, 2013 11:17:00 AM, Anonymous Michael lock. said...

Drugs will always be an easier way to,earn money, But please somebody..... Get those bananas back into full production. I grew up on fyfees from Jamaica, thanks to,a merchant navy engineer who,lived near me as a child. And there isn't a banana in the world, comes any where near to being as delicious . Green ripe or overripe . Yumm

 

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