Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega dies at 83

Tina Ray
June 7, 2017

In 2011, he was then extradited to Panama, where he was convicted of the murder of political opponents and other charges. Opponents accused Noriega of killing political opponents and working with drug cartels, and the US eventually soured on him.

It became clear to Washington that Noriega was more interested in selling his services to the highest bidder - including the United States' political enemies - than maintaining good relations. "Now he is commander in chief and said "no" to our interests".

Noriega returned home as a wheelchair-bound broken man suffering from a series of ailments.

In 2015, he apologized to his country for the offenses of his regime and his own actions that led up to the 1989 United States invasion, and his ouster. He was serving a 60-year prison sentence until a court granted him temporary house arrest earlier this year, for health reasons. In March 2017, he suffered a brain hemorrhage during surgery, making his condition worse and placing him in the ICU.

Noriega was born on February 11, 1934, in Panama City, Panama.

Noriega, who studied at a military academy in Peru, supported Gen. Omar Torrijos in a coup that ousted President Arnulfo Arias in 1968. He oversaw the army's corrupt off-book deals and ran its ruthless secret police force.

As Panama's de facto ruler, Noriega opened the door for drug traffickers to safely move their drugs through the country in exchange for a cut of the earnings - reportedly upwards of $100,000 per load.

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 granted by the U.S. following his 1991 conviction.

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.


Madaxweynaha Panama Juan Carlos Valera ayaa bartiisa Twitter-ka ku sheegay gerida Noriega, waxaana uu sheegay in qoyskiisu si nabad gelyo ah ku duugan karaan.

He also acted as a liaison to Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Between 1970 and 1987, he appeared in at least 80 different U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration files.

Noriega accused the USA government of hatching a "conspiracy" to keep him incarcerated. But U.S. patience was wearing thin.

He was indicted for drug trafficking in Florida in 1988. The U.S. Congress imposed economic sanctions to increase the pressure. He famously waved a machete at a rally while vowing not to leave, and in 1989 he nullified elections that observers say were handily won by the opposition.

Noriega waxa uu xabsi ku qaatey dalalka Maraykanka, Faransiiska iyo Panama, waxa uu dalkiisa hoggaamiyey 1983-1989.

While some resentment lingers over the USA invasion, Noriega has so few supporters in modern-day Panama that attempts to auction off his old home attracted no bidders and the government chose to demolish decaying building down. Among other tactics, US forces blared loud rock music from Humvees parked outside the embassy to drive Noriega out. Yet, each man - in his own way - underscores lessons from US history which President Trump would be insane to ignore - even as he does.

In an interview on Panamanian TV two years ago, Noriega read out a statement of apology. He was then sent to France, where he was convicted of money laundering and was sentenced to seven-year prison sentence.

His relationship with the United States defined his rise and fall as one of Latin America's strongmen. This view was widely derided.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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