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Manuel Noriega: The life of Panama's former military dictator May 30, 2017


Panama's former military dictator Manuel Noriega has died at the age of 83. He had been in an induced coma since undergoing brain surgery in March.
The former general was serving a sentence for murder in Panama when he died. President Juan Carlos Varela announced his death via Twitter late last night and said it marked the end of a chapter in Panama's history.
What was Noriega most renowned for?
A military leader who ruled Panama from 1983 until a US invasion in 1989, Noriega spied for the CIA, trafficked drugs with the knowledge of US officials and had Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar as a trading partner.
He was later described by a Senate report as "the best example in recent US foreign policy of how a foreign leader is able to manipulate the United States to the detriment of our own interests".
How did he rise to power?
Noriega was a protege of General Omar Torrijos, who stole power in a military coup in 1968. Noriega took on his mentor's role as de facto leader of the country in 1983, two years after Torrijos died in a "mysterious" plane crash, says The Guardian.
What was Noriega's relationship with the US?
Noriega was trained at the School of the Americas, which provided military training to the governments of US-backed Latin American nations.
Throughout his six years as leader of Panama, he spied for the CIA – the agency considered him a "valued asset" against leftist insurgencies in Central America, says The Guardian.
During that time he dealt cocaine on an industrial scale, using the resources of the state, with the knowledge of US officials. 
How did his downfall come about?
In 1988, Noriega was indicted by US courts for drug trafficking. His activities had become an embarrassment to the US and the following year newly-elected US President George HW Bush ordered the invasion of Panama. Noriega was captured and flown to the US where he was convicted of drug trafficking by a Florida court in 1992 and sentenced to 40 years in prison, later reduced to 30 years.
After his capture, Noriega tried to turn the tables on the US, saying: "Everything done by the Republic of Panama under my command was known. Panama was an open book."
What about his later years?
After 17 years in a minimum-security jail in the US where he had his own bungalow and gym equipment, Noriega was extradited to France in 2010 and sentenced to seven years in jail for money laundering. In 2011, he was then extradited to Panama, where he was convicted of the murder of political opponents and other charges. In 2015 he asked the country for forgiveness for his past actions. 
How did he end his days?
A brain tumour was diagnosed in 2012. In January this year, Noriega was granted house arrest as he prepared for surgery. He spent several weeks at his daughter's home before his operation in March.
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