Manuel Noriega: The life of Panama's former military dictator

Tomas Mccoy
June 7, 2017

Former Panamanian dictator and convicted drug trafficker Manuel Noriega has died following complications from brain surgery.

Noriega served a 17-year drug sentence in the USA and was later sent to face charges in France, where he was convicted of money-laundering.

The report notes that Noriega left prison under house arrest in January to undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who spied for the Central Intelligence Agency before his regime sparked an USA invasion in 1989 has died at 83.

Varela added, "His daughters and his relatives deserve to mourn in peace". His activities had become an embarrassment to the US and the following year newly-elected US President George HW Bush ordered the invasion of Panama. He was later appointed as chief of military intelligence by Torrijos.

In 1968, National Guard Director Omar Torrijos was the head of a coup against Panama President Arnulfo Arias.

What was Noriega's relationship with the US?

In 1988, Noriega was indicted by U.S. courts for drug trafficking.


Manuel Noriega's wife, Felicidad Sieiro de Noriega, and the couple's three daughters, Thays Noriega, Sandra Noriega, and Lorena Noriega are survived by him. USA invaded the country in 1989 and ended his rule.

In 1988, a failed coup against Noriega - allegedly supported by the USA - led to increasingly erratic behavior and the unilateral annulment of a presidential election. Under the judge's instructions, they were told not to consider the political side of the case - including whether the USA had the right to invade Panama and bring Noriega to trial in the first place.

The wily military ruler of the Central American nation made world headlines as his relationship with Washington soured, culminating in the United States sending almost 28,000 troops to seize Panama City and capture him in a house-to-house hunt. He was later tried at a Miami court on several cases including drug trafficking and money laundering.

In an interview on Panamanian TV two years ago, Noriega read out a statement of apology.

He was due for release on parole in 2007, but he was held pending a decision on a French extradition request - a Paris court had convicted Noriega in absentia in 1999 on charges that he had laundered $2.8 million in drug money by buying property in France.

In mid-2011, France approved his extradition to Panama.

He said: "I apologise to anyone who feels offended, affected, harmed or humiliated by my actions or those of my superiors whilst carrying out orders, or those of my subordinates, during the time of my civilian and military government". When the people of the country rose in protest against his dictatorial methods, he declared a national emergency and shut down media outlets and sent his opponents on exile.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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