Former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega is dead at the age of 83. He had been in a medically induced coma in a hospital in Panama City following surgery in March to remove a benign brain tumor.
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela tweeted the news.
Muerte de Manuel A. Noriega cierra un capítulo de nuestra historia; sus hijas y sus familiares merecen un sepelio en paz.
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) May 30, 2017
Translation: “The death of Manual A. Noriega closes a chapter in our history; his daughters and his relatives deserve to carry out his funeral in peace.”
Noriega had once been a “spy asset” for the U.S., and had acted as a liaison of sorts between the U.S. and Cuba during the Cold War. He was a well-known drug trafficker who was the unofficial ruler of Panama since 1983. When his preferred presidential candidate lost in 1989, Noriega voided the election results, which resulted in U.S.-led sanctions designed to depose him.
When the sanctions didn’t work, President George H.W. Bush deployed 30,000 U.S. troops to invade Panama and remove Noriega. Noriega took refuge at the Vatican Embassy in Panama City, and holed up their for 10 days. U.S. troops waged psychological warfare against Noriega, which included blasting rock music 24 hours a day; musical selections included songs from Guns N’ Roses, Jethro Tull, and The Clash.
Noriega eventually surrendered and was imprisoned in the U.S. He was convicted of money laundering and drug-related charges, and received a sentence of 40 years in prison.
In honor of his passing, a little Gun N’ Roses.