Ex-Panama dictator Manuel Noriega dies at age 83

Claudine Rigal
Mai 31, 2017

-March 7, 2017: Undergoes surgery for tumor, then suffers bleeding in brain that requires second operation hours later, leaving him in critical condition. Noriega was ousted by United States troops in 1989 after he lost favour with Washington as an ally against communism.

Noriega ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989, spying for the Central Intelligence Agency before his drug trafficking and brutal regime sparked a massive USA invasion in 1989.

He began his career as a lieutenant in the Panama National Guard and quickly rose in rank.

—December 1969: Allows Gen. Omar Torrijos to land in Chiriqui from Mexico after military uprising against commander of National Guard. Torrijos died in a 1981 air crash, and Noriega became de facto ruler two years later.

Many people in Panama are reacting with indifference to the death of ex-dictator Manuel Noriega, who long ago lost essentially all his power and political influence.

Dr. Brzezinski, a Polish-American refugee, was one of the greatest foreign policy intellects of our times, on the level of Dr. Henry Kissinger - but without Kissinger's flaws (i.e., a tendency to coddle despicable regimes for short-term US interests).

Despite the incentives to maintain these relations, the 1980s saw a breakdown between the two countries, with Washington cutting off economic and military assistance and freezing Panamanian government assets. By then, he had already started to help Colombian drug lords such as Pablo Escobar smuggle cocaine into the United States and launder bales of drug cash through Panama's banks, receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks.

Amid growing unrest in Panama, US President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama - codenamed "Operation Just Cause" - in December 1989, saying Noriega's rule posed a threat to US lives and property.

Today, the nation has little in common with the bombed-out neighborhoods where Noriega hid during the 1989 invasion by the USA military, before being famously smoked out of his refuge at the Vatican Embassy by loud rock music blared by US troops.

—Dec. 20, 1989: As U.S. troops invade to depose him, Noriega goes into hiding, finally surrendering on January 3 after standoff at Vatican's diplomatic mission. As Noriega dabbled in geopolitical intrigue, lending covert support to Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, his criminal activities also mushroomed. "You may think what you like of Noriega, but we can't say he was anything but respectful toward his neighbors". He was first sentenced to 40 years in jail but was later granted prisoner of war status after his trial due to his connections with the United States' CIA and the sentence was reduced to 30 years.

He was indicted in a USA federal court on drug-trafficking charges in 1988 and after U.S. onlookers declared that he had stolen the 1989 election, former United States president George HW Bush ordered to launch an invasion into Panama.

The Panamanian general that was a CIA asset and go-between in Central America's dirty wars but became a monster the USA could not control, died on Monday, May 29, 2017.

Born to an accountant and his maid in 1934 in Panama City, Noriega was given up for adoption to a schoolteacher when he was five.

Behind bars, Noriega unsuccessfully sued the creators of the "Call of Duty" video game franchise claiming they ruined his reputation.

In 2015, Noriega had apologized "to anybody who felt offended, affected, prejudiced or humiliated by my actions".

He is survived by his wife, Felicidad, and three daughters, Lorena, Thays and Sandra.

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