Manuel Noriega, ex-Panamanian dictator, dies at 83

Noriega, who died Monday night, was called MAN for the acronym for Manuel Antonio Noriega, although the New York Times points out in its obituary that the nickname that endured among his detractors was "Pineapple Face", owing to the strongman's pockmarked skin.

However, the government rejected their appeals, and said Noriega would return to prison once he recovered from the brain tumour surgery.

Noriega had been a key United States ally but was forcibly removed when American troops invaded in 1989 and was later jailed in the U.S. on drugs and laundering charges.

After his removal, he spent time in prison in France, U.S. and finally in his home country, where he was convicted for murder in 2011, for crime committed during his time in power. Noriega's 30-year conviction ended in 2007, but was extradited to France on murder charges.

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. He accused the USA of a "conspiracy" to keep him behind bars for his refusal to help topple Nicaragua's Sandinistas in the 1980s.

-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.

Manuel Antonio Noriega was born poor in Panama City on February 11, 1934, and was raised by foster parents.

One of his first posts was under Omar Torrijos, who went on to seize power in a 1968 coup and appointed Noriega as head of military intelligence.

07 1988 shows Panama's general Manuel Antonio Noriega attending an anti-US meeting in Panama city
07 1988 shows Panama's general Manuel Antonio Noriega attending an anti-US meeting in Panama city

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

Noriega spied for the Central Intelligence Agency before his drug trafficking and harsh regime elicited a United States invasion in 1989.

But he was also a cocaine trafficker, something that only caught up with him much later when relations between his dictatorship and the United States soured.

May 29, 2017: Noriega dies at the San Tomas public hospital.

While some resentment lingers over the US 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.

According to Anderson, Noriega said: "I wouldn't do that again". In 2015, he issued a blanket apology "to anybody who felt offended, affected, prejudiced or humiliated by my actions".

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

"He rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become a corrupt and illegitimate dictator", said Robert Pastor, who had extensive contacts with Noriega as national security adviser for Latin America during the Carter administration.

  • Leroy Wright