Former Panamanian dictator General Manuel Antonio Noriega died at the age of 83 on Monday, officials told reporters on Tuesday. The strongman suffered a haemorrhage after a brain surgery, BBC reported. Noriega was ousted by United States troops in 1989 after he lost favour with Washington as an ally against communism.
In January 2017, he was placed under house arrest to allow him to undergo treatment before his brain tumour removal surgery. He died on Monday in Panama City’s Santo Tomas hospital, Secretary of State for Communication Manuel Dominguez announced, BBC reported. On Twitter, President Juan Carlos Varela said his death marked the end of a chapter in Panamanian history.
Noriega had assumed power as a de facto leader of Panama and ruled from 1983 to 1989. He is believed to have spied for the Central Intelligence Agency until he was overthrown by 28,000 US troops deployed to arrest him. During his regime, he collaborated with several drug traffickers including Pablo Escobar. After his ouster, the former military leader was later jailed in the United States on drugs and laundering-related charges, and then taken to Panama, where he was served a sentence for murder, corruption and embezzlement.
Noriega was known for “brandishing a machete while making defiant nationalist speeches” and his flamboyant lifestyle supported by the drug trade, The New York Times reported.