Former Panama Dictator Manuel Noriega Dies At 83

Jay Jacobs
June 7, 2017

The one-time USA ally was ousted as leader of Panama by an American invasion in 1989 and later served a 17-year drug sentence in the United States before serving time in France for money laundering.

Noriega was put into a medically induced coma in March after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage. His death was announced on Tuesday morning by Panama's president Juan Carlos Varela, who said Noriega's death marked a closure in their country's history.

From 1983 to 1989, Noriega served as the military director of Panama. "His daughters and his relatives deserve to mourn in peace".

As he clawed his way out of an impoverished childhood, Noriega looked first not to the military, but the medical profession for his preferred profession.

Studies at a military academy in Peru. Upon return, he joins Panama's military, the National Guard, becoming chief of western province of Chiriqui. The contrasts between the two men could hardly be greater.

Noriega was later accused in a U.S. court of accepting up to $60 million in bribes from cartel members, who apparently also paid Panamanian banks 2 percent of proceeds to launder their drug money. As a military officer in the 1960s and 70s Noriega was a Central Intelligence Agency informant, distributing cash and weapons to US-backed forces throughout South America. Torrijos died in a plane crash in 1981 and Noriega took control two years later.

-Feb. 25, 1988: Delvalle tries to remove Noriega as Defense Forces commander, but legislature removes Delvalle instead.

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He was toppled in a December 1989 USA invasion, the largest such U.S. military operation since the Vietnam war.

Frequently compared to former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, Noriega too went from being accomplice to enemy of the United States.

For years, the Panamanian military man had been a close and sometimes clandestine ally of US governments as he rose to power in a country defined by a USA strategic asset, the Panama Canal, and in a region where America was fighting a series of proxy wars against Soviet allies. "The Panamanian people have already overcome this period of dictatorship". Yet, each man - in his own way - underscores lessons from USA history which President Trump would be insane to ignore - even as he does. The U.S. Congress ended economic aid and military assistance to Panama in 1987.

-May 17, 1984: Electoral court declares Noriega-backed Nicholas Ardito Barletta as victor of presidential election as opposition alleges fraud.

A year later, then-US president George H W Bush ordered the invasion.

1992: A USA court sentences Noriega to 40 years prison for drug trafficking. He was subsequently indicted in the US for trafficking.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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