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US foreign policy is increasingly promoted by billionaire funded foundations. The neoliberal era has created individuals with incredible wealth and through “philanthropy”, they flex their influence and feel good at the same time. While these philanthropists can be liberal on some issues, they universally support U.S. foreign policy and the “free market”. Because many of these super-rich individuals made their wealth through investments and speculation, most do not like a planned economy, socialized services beyond the private sector or greater government control.
These mega wealthy individuals, and the people who run their foundations, are often intricately connected to the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Grants are given to projects, campaigns and organizations which align with their long-term goals. In this direct way, supposedly independent ThinkTanks and NGOs are influenced if not controlled. There is much truth in the old saying, “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.”
Nicaragua is a good example. For historical and contemporary reasons, Washington is hostile to the Nicaraguan government. The Sandinista Front ousted the US supported dictator in 1979 and governed until 1990. Then, following a decade of US sponsored “Contra” war and economic sanctions, the Sandinistas were voted out of office. Next, after 16 years of neoliberal governments, the Nicaraguan people voted to return the Sandinistas to power in 2006. Since then, the Sandinista Front (FSLN) won the election with more support in 2011 and more again, 73%, in 2016.
Nicaragua has a capitalist economy, but the government provides many social services, including health care and education, along with community-based policing and an impressive 90% food self-sufficiency. Nicaragua maintains an independent foreign policy which sometimes aligns with Cuba, Venezuela and other independent movements in Latin America.
Nicaragua has made plans for a trans-oceanic canal. Because this would compete with the Panama Canal and be independent of heavy U.S. influence, the United States does not approve. With the financial collapse of the canal’s Chinese investor, the plans have been suspended if not cancelled.