Manuel Noriega, the military strongman with ties to drug trafficking who ruled Panama before being brought down by a U.S. invasion in 1989 and 1990, has died. Noriega’s death was announced late Monday by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, who posted a message on Twitter.
Noriega was 83.
“Noriega, who ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989, was a longtime collaborator of the Central Intelligence Agency and a useful U.S. ally in a region that was prone to leftist insurgencies,” Reuters reports. “The invasion ordered by President George H.W. Bush brought an end to his career of money-laundering and cocaine smuggling, in which he worked with traffickers like Colombian Pablo Escobar. He was initially sentenced in the United States in 1992, but was serving a sentence for murder in Panama when he died.”
The report notes that Noriega left prison under house arrest in January to undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor.
“The surgery went ahead in early March, but he suffered a hemorrhage, underwent a second operation, and had been in a coma ever since,” Reuters reports, adding: “A Panamanian government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Noriega died at around 11 p.m. local time in a Panama City hospital after his condition suddenly worsened.”
Here’s the announcement from Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela …