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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Manuel Noriega, former Panamanian dictator and drug trafficker, dead at 83

CBS News reports that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, the military strongman and former CIA informant who was forced from power by an American invasion and spent the last 27 years of his life in prison, died late Monday after suffering a brain hemorrhage resulting from surgery. He was 83.
His death was announced on Twitter by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela‏, who said it "closes a chapter in our history; his daughters and his family deserve a funeral in peace."

According to CBS News Noriega had been transferred to house arrest in Panama City on Jan. 29 to prepare for a procedure to remove a benign brain tumor. He went in for a second surgery on March 7, his daughters said, but was left in critical condition after the procedure.
Raised in the Panama City slums, Noriega rose to prominence in Panama under Gen. Omar Torrijos, who seized power in a 1968 coup. Two years after Torrijos was killed in a plane crash, Noriega took control of the Panamanian government. He was propped up by U.S. officials, who paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight drug trafficking. He also served as a CIA informant.
According to testimony by former U.S. officials, his assistance was crucial to advancing U.S. foreign policy interests in South America in the 1980s. Donald Winters, chief of CIA operations in Panama, said Noriega brokered deals with South American leaders and acted as a liaison to Cuban President Fidel Castro. He also provided intelligence about guerrilla and terrorist activities, even granting safe haven to the U.S.-backed former shah of Iran.
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