Manuel Noriega dead at 83
Tyrants and Dictators – Manuel Noriega
Between them, they were responsible for countless atrocities and deaths. They are power-hungry men who maintained an iron-clad grip over the respective nations they ruled. Under their leadership thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives as a result of their murderous regimes. These are the world’s most notorious tyrants and dictators.
Panama’s Noriega: CIA spy turned drug-running dictator by Elida Moreno
PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was for years a useful tool of the United States, until President George H.W. Bush lost patience with his brutal, drug-running rule and sent nearly 28,000 troops to invade the country and oust him.
Noriega, whose death at the age of 83 was announced late on Monday, was captured by U.S. forces in January 1990, two weeks after the massive invasion. He spent the rest of his life in custody in the United States, France and Panama for crimes ranging from murder to racketeering and drug-running.
With the knowledge of U.S. officials, Noriega formed “the hemisphere’s first narcokleptocracy,” a U.S. Senate subcommittee report said, calling him “the best example in recent U.S. foreign policy of how a foreign leader is able to manipulate the United States to the detriment of our own interests.”
After his capture, Noriega tried to turn the tables on the United States, saying it had worked hand in glove with him.
“Everything done by the Republic of Panama under my command was known,” Noriega said during his incarceration. “Panama was an open book.”
By the time he returned to Panama in a wheelchair in December 2011, Noriega was a shadow of the macho army general who swung a machete at rallies. In 2015, he asked the country for forgiveness for his notorious rule.
The former strongman spent the rest of his life in solitary confinement for the murders of hundreds of opponents until being released from prison and placed under house arrest for three months in January to prepare for brain surgery. His death was the result of complications from an operation to remove a tumor.
Born in the tough Panama City neighborhood of San Felipe on Feb. 11, 1934, less than a mile from the U.S.-controlled Panama Canal Zone, Noriega was raised by a family friend.
Severe teenage acne left deep scars, lending him the lifelong nickname “Pineapple Face.”
A poor but bright youth, he had few options until a half-brother helped him join the military.
Street-smart and ruthless, Noriega showed an early flair for “psyops” – psychological warfare operations – and developed an abiding interest in Asian leaders Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and 13th century Mongol warlord Genghis Khan.
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. He oversaw the army’s corrupt off-book deals and ran its ruthless secret police force.
Dubbed “mi gangster” by Torrijos, Noriega orchestrated the disappearance of scores of opponents, some of whose bodies later turned up in exhumations at the former Tocumen military base, bound and showing signs of torture.
‘BARRAGE OF EVIDENCE’
A paid CIA collaborator since the early 1970s, Noriega at first worked closely with Washington, allowing U.S. forces to set up listening posts in Panama, and use the country to funnel aid to pro-American forces in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Using that information, Noriega manipulated both his Panamanian and American bosses to further his own interests.
Torrijos died in a 1981 air crash, and Noriega became de facto ruler two years later. 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.
U.S. officials knew about some of his criminal deals as early as 1978, according to testimony, and by 1983 had a “twenty-one cannon barrage of evidence” against Noriega.
But the United States at first refrained from taking action, partly because Panama was seen as a buffer against leftist insurgencies in Central America during the Cold War. To read more go to the link below: