No time off in Panama for Noriega's death

Lance Nichols
May 31, 2017

-Aug. 12, 1983: Noriega assumes command of National Guard, which he will convert to Panama's Defense Forces. His family had hoped that his poor health would allow him to stay at home.

Noriega was a military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989, when he was removed from power by the United States during the invasion of Panama.

The assassination of an American lieutenant on the part of the Panamanian military was the ideal pretext for the then president Bush to authorize the invasion to Panama on December 20, 1989, with a battalion of 24,000 soldiers. After serving a 17-year sentence in the USA, in 2007 US officials agreed to extradite him to France, where he was sentenced to seven years for money laundering. He surrendered to USA troops in January 1990.

While in jail he was convicted in absentia in France of money-laundering and sentenced to seven years. More recently, he underwent a major brain surgery and was put into an induced coma.

-July 31, 1981: Torrijos dies in plane accident, and members of secret service temporarily take over National Guard.

Nevertheless, in 2015 Noriega issued a blanket apology "to anybody who felt offended, affected, prejudiced or humiliated by my actions".

In 1988 he was indicted on drug-trafficking charges in Miami and Tampa.


Born less than a mile from the US-controlled Panama Canal Zone in a tough Panama City neighbourhood, Noriega was raised by a family friend.

Studies at military academy in Peru. Omar Torrijos, who seized power in a 1968 coup d'etat.

Per an earlier indictment in US courts, Noriega was taken to Florida to stand trial. Using that information, Noriega manipulated both his Panamanian and American bosses to further his own interests.

Carolina Cruz, a 65-year-old housewife, said "Noriega leaves open wounds". He was a spy for the US Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, until his country was invaded by the USA - in what was described as the largest military action after Vietnam - and his brutal regime ousted.

Noriega ruled with an iron fist, ordering the deaths of those who opposed him and maintaining a murky, close and conflictive relationship with the United States. Subsequently, his sentence was reduced to 30 years for good behavior. The Central American country of 3.9 million people is considered a favored transshipment point for drugs and a haven for money laundering.

As part of an extradition deal in April 2010 and signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, France agreed to hold a new trial and to uphold Noriega's prisoner of war status. Noriega was serving a sentence for murder in Panama when he died.

While imprisoned overseas he suffered strokes, hypertension and other ailments, his lawyers said.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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