Ex-US Ally, Noriega, Dies At 83

Posted June 07, 2017

Noriega had been in coma since March after undergoing a brain surgery.

January 28, 2017: A Panama court agrees to temporarily release Noriega to house arrest to prepare for surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who spied for the United States before his drug trafficking and brutality triggered a U.S. invasion to oust him in 1989, has died aged 83.

He added: His daughters and his relatives deserve to mourn in peace.

As the decade wore on, the CIA paid Noriega for information even as Noriega climbed the ranks of his own country's military intelligence division, ultimately becoming its chief officer and one of the principal lieutenants of Panama's strongman at the time, Omar Torrijos.

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Citing the 1990 book, "In the Time of the Tyrants" by journalists Richard Koster and Guillermo Borbon, The New York Times reports that while passing secrets about Cuba to the U.S., Mr. Noriega sold the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro thousands of Panamanian passports, at $5,000 each.

In 1989, Noriega was indicted in the United States on charges of racketeering, laundering drug money and drug trafficking.

But Noriega's increasing internal repressive rule soon angered the USA, especially after intelligence indicated that he was selling his services to other intelligence bodies and drug-trafficking organizations.

Noriega is survived by his wife, Felicidad, and three daughters. Sometimes these leaders rule unethically by Western standards, yet we remain allied to them because our economic interests align.

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

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From the 1950s until shortly before the U.S. invasion, Noriega worked closely with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

After a few days of fighting, the Central American dictator fled to asylum at the Vatican Embassy on Christmas Eve, setting off a freaky siege in which US troops bombarded the mission with thunderous rock and rap music.

"The United States understood that Noriega is not the same man that was lieutenant colonel", Noriega told American filmmaker Oliver Stone, who interviewed him in a US federal prison in 1993. He surrendered to United States troops in January 1990.

-April 27, 2010: Extradited by U.S.to France, where he is convicted of laundering money in France during 1980s and sentenced to seven years in prison. He was expelled to France and then brought back to Panama and imprisoned.

"In the name of God, I had nothing to do with the death of any of those people", he said at one hearing.

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