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Manuel Noriega

Manuel Noriega was the dictator of Panama for a number of years. Before 1967, he was trained in counterintelligence and intelligence by the U.S. Army's Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone, which lead to him being offered a job helping the CIA. 

He kept moving up the ranks, starting as a lieutenant on the National Guard, and moving up to become the chief of staff. After the commander of the defense forces resigned, Manuel Noriega became the head of the Panamanian Defense Forces. 

Noriega was paid by the United States, gave new rights to them, like letting the US set up listening posts. In 1983, he made himself leader, by promoting himself to general. In 1984, Noriega allowed the first elections in Panama in over 16 years. When results showed that former president Arnulfo Arias was on his way to a landslide victory, Noriega halted the court and manipulated the results, and saying his party won by a slim margin. 

In 1989, Noriega's party, PRD nominated Carlos Duque, ran against the coalition of all of the other political parties in the country, and nominated Guillermo Endara. The other parties knew the party would try to rig the election, but they had no proof. Different from the election of 1984, Endara defeated Duque in a landslide victory, getting three times as many votes. Noriega was still going to declare his man the winner, but Duque knew he lost and refused to go along with it. So, Noriega voided the election, claiming "foreign interference" had tainted the results. 

Following that election, the US imposed economic sanctions against Panama and were becoming very tense with the nation of Panama. The United States had four reasons to invade Panama: 

  1. Safeguard the lives of U.S. citizens, and there had been multiple U.S. and Panamanian Forces
  2. Defending democracy and human rights in Panama
  3. Combatting drug trafficking
  4. Protect neutrality of the Panama Canal

They did, in December 1989, and the operation was called Operation Just Cause, and it would take Manuel Noriega as a prisoner of war, and make Guillermo Endara the new president of Panama. Just after the invasion began, Guillermo Endara was sworn in, but Noriega wasn't captured yet. Navy SEALS sunk his boat and destroyed his jet, but he was still escaped. It was later found out the he was in the Vatican diplomatic mission in Panama City, so the US played extremely loud rock and roll music, which they said was to prevent Noriega from spying on his civilians, but some think it was a psychological weapon, as Noriega hated Rock music. Noriega finally surrendered on January 3rd, 1990, and he was sent back to the United States where he would be tried in court.

Manuel Noriega was tried and convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. On September 16th, 1992, he was sentenced to forty years in jail, eventually decreasing to thirty. Later, in 1999, the French claimed he laundered money in France, by purchasing luxurious apartments in Paris. At the same time, he was convicted on murder and human rights violations in Panama, and was requested there to serve a twenty year sentence. In the meanwhile, he was still held in jail, and in 2010, he was sentenced to seven years in jail in La Sante Jail in Paris, a notoriously close watched prison. In 2011, he was ordered to go back to Panama, where he would serve his murder sentence. He will most likely be in jail for the rest of his life. 

So, Manuel Noriega, went from having immense power, to being imprisoned for life. A truly corrupt person, he violated countless laws during his time in power. 

 

David Witten

Moe Berg

Ho Chi Minh Trail