Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega dies at 83

Erica Roy
June 7, 2017

The falling out culminated in the United States sending nearly 28,000 troops to seize Panama City and capture Noriega after a house-to-house hunt. While he worked with American intelligence services, he served as lieutenant in the Panama National Guard.

Raised by foster parents, he joined Panama's Defence Forces in 1962 and steadily rose through the ranks.

Noriega was a protege of General Omar Torrijos, who stole power in a military coup in 1968. Two years after Torrijos died in a mysterious plane crash in 1981, Noriega became the head of the armed forces and Panama's military ruler. But when those interests conflict, we appear quick to intervene.

Noriega accused the USA government of hatching a "conspiracy" to keep him incarcerated.

But the United States at first refrained from taking action, partly because Panama was seen as a buffer against leftist insurgencies in Central America during the Cold War. He was instrumental in helping U.S. campaign against a leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. He also said that Noriega's daughters and his family deserves to bury him in peace. Noriega's activities in Panama included his role in being a major cocaine dealer.

By 3 January 1990, Noriega surrendered and was flown to the USA to face drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering charges, serving 17 years in jail there. Evidence of the Panamanian dictator's extrajudicial killings and dealings with drug cartels mounted until it was almost impossible to ignore - no matter how helpful he had proved to the Central Intelligence Agency in the past. Matters came to a boil when Noriega got his opponent Huga Spadafora beheaded in 1985.

While some resentment lingers over the US invasion, Noriega has so few supporters in modern-day Panama that attempts to auction off his old home attracted no bidders and the government made a decision to demolish decaying building down.

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In 1991, Noriega was convicted of drug charges, after the "trial of the century".

By the second half of the 1980s, the United States was opposed to Nicaragua and cut off all kinds of aid to the country. In 1989, U.S. invaded Panama, Noriega was captured and taken to Miami.

But his increasingly brutal rule and drug dealings led the U.S. to seek his ouster.

Noriega spent the remainder of his life in custody between the United States, France and Panama for a host of crimes ranging from murder to racketeering and drug-running.

While in prison, Noriega suffered several health issues. He was placed in a medically induced coma after suffering severe brain hemorrhaging during the surgery, his attorney said at the time.

The era in which Noriega exercised absolute control over Panama is long past - but his ill-fated reign continues to cast a long shadow both in his home country and the United States, with whom he had a complex relationship.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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