Manuel Noriega, the former military ruler of Panama who was ousted by a US invasion in 1989, has died aged 83, according to the country’s President.
Manuel Noriega Cause of Death
Noriega had suffered a brain hemorrhage following the first of two surgeries to remove a benign brain tumor in March.
Juan Carlos Varela announced Noriega’s death on Twitter late Monday night, saying that his passing closes a dark chapter in Panama’s history.
The former dictator ruled the Central American nation from 1983 to 1989. He was released from prison in January and transferred to house arrest in Panama for the first time in three decades ahead of his operation.
Noriega spied for the CIA before his drug trafficking and harsh regime elicited a US invasion in 1989. He originally served a 17-year-drug sentence in America and was later sent to France to face charges. He spent the final years of his life in a Panamanian prison for murder of political opponents during his cruel and brutal reign.
Noriega accused the U.S. government of hatching a “conspiracy” to keep him incarcerated. He blamed his refusal to cooperate with an American plan to topple Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government in the 1980s as the source of his legal troubles.
Following Noriega’s downfall, the country of Panama experienced widespread changes, including assuming control over the Panama Canal from the U.S. in 1999, vastly expanding the waterway and enjoying a boom in tourism and real estate.
Noriega is survived by his wife Felicidad and daughters Lorena, Thays and Sandra.