Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega dead at 83

Former Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega died at the age of 83, while serving time in a Panamanian prison for murdering political opponents during his regime.

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January 3, 1990. Gen. Manuel Noriega is escorted onto a U.S. Air Force aircraft by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). (Public domain, image via the U.S government)

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2017 – Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega died in Panama City at the age of 89. Though he had once been regarded as friendly to the United States, relations soured and American forces ousted Noriega in 1989.

Noriega would serve a lengthy prison sentence in the U.S. for drug trafficking after President George H.W. Bush ordered a force of more than 27,000 troops to invade Panama in 1989, largely for the purpose of removing the increasingly troublesome and lawless dictator.

According to CNN, most recently,

“Noriega, 83, had undergone surgery in a Panama City hospital on March 7 to remove a benign brain tumor. He was placed in a medically induced coma after suffering severe brain hemorrhaging during the surgery, his attorney told CNN affiliate TV Panama at the time.”


Also according to CNN, Noriega’s death was confirmed and announced by Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela via his confirmed Twitter account, where he stated the former dictator’s passing closed a chapter in Panama’s history. Panama’s health minister also confirmed the ex-dictator’s death.

Following his ouster and eventual conviction in the U.S. at the conclusion of his 1991 trial, Noriega spent most of his remaining years moving between American and French jails to serve out his original 40-year sentence. More recently as his health deteriorated, he was allowed to spend the remaining years of his life in a Panama prison, where he was incarcerated for murdering political rivals during his regime in the 1980s.

In recent years, Noriega suffered from a variety of ailments, including bronchitis and high blood pressure. Last year, doctors discovered the rapid growth of a brain tumor that was first detected in 2012. It was at that time that he was moved to house arrest prior to receiving surgery for the tumor.

In 2014, Noriega sued video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., in Los Angeles Superior Court. He charged the company with using his likeness and name without his permission in one of the company’s best-selling “Call of Duty” video games, “Black Ops II,” in which he was portrayed as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.”

The suit was later tossed out by Judge William Fahey who ruled that the financial value of the work did not come from the former dictator but from the skill and creativity of Activision’s game and its creators. Judge Fahey also said the game did not benefit from Noriega’s inclusion, as Noriega had alleged.

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