Former Panama dictator dies

Former Panama dictator dies

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.

Varela tweeted that the death of Manuel A Noriega closes a chapter in their history.

"Although it (his terminal illness) gave him time to forgive his own way, with the media attention that such a gesture deserved, Manuel Antonio Noriega died last night without the indulgence of a people who still resent his attitude towards the United States invasion, some for not facing him as The General who was and others for not giving up in time to avoid the most serious aggression suffered by the country", says La Estrella.

In 2015, he appeared in a televised jailhouse interview - his first time on camera since a 1996 interview with CNN's Larry King - in which he asked for forgiveness from the Panamanian people. Manuel Noriega's cause of death was a result of post-surgery cerebral bleeding.

He said the burial would be a private family affair and gave no further details.

Noriega, who spied for the Central Intelligence Agency before his drug trafficking and brutal regime sparked the U.S. invasion, served a 17-year drug sentence in America and was later sent to face charges in France.

Noriega had surgery in March to remove a brain tumour, having been let out of prison under house arrest in January because of ill health. But the government rejected their appeals.

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

He was "very attentive and normal, correct, disciplined, and decent - but when that man reached the rank of general he was definitely someone else".

Initially he reacted with defiance as the USA imposed economic sanctions created to drive him from power.

Jurors convicted Noriega in April 1992 of eight of 10 charges. Under Torrijos, who was the dictator of the central American republic before him, Noriega rose to become head of Panama's military intelligence.

But relations between Noriega and the USA turned sour by the late 1980s due to allegations of his own drug trafficking activities and his insistence on political independence.

But his increasingly brutal rule and his close ties with the drug trade led the United States to seek his ouster. Some 28,000 troops landed on the country on 20 December 1989. Ten days later, he finally surrendered and was whisked to Miami.

The former strongman was flown to the United States, where a court there convicted him on drug trafficking and money laundering charges, and sentenced him to prison.

He spent the rest of his life in custody, latterly in Panama for murder, corruption and embezzlement.

"Before the altar of my conscience I've come to express myself in the spirit of forgiveness", Noriega said.

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