Noriega, Manuel Antonio

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Noriega, Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio Noriega (mänwĕl´ äntō´nyō nôryā´gə), 1934–2017, Panamanian general. Commander of the Panamanian Defense Forces from 1983, when he promoted himself to full general, Noriega consolidated the strong-armed rule inherited from Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, and became the de facto leader of Panama. A one-time operative (1955–86) for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army, he was implicated in drug trafficking, the sale of U.S. secrets to Cuba and the USSR, and other illegal activities. U.S. officials urged him to step down (Jan., 1988), but he refused. A U.S. indictment on drug charges and subsequent economic sanctions proved ineffective. Following the murder of a U.S. marine in Panama City, President George H. W. Bush ordered troops to Panama (Dec., 1989), and Noriega was captured and brought to the United States for trial. He was convicted (1992) on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and drug trafficking, and served 17 years in prison. France moved to extradite Noriega after his sentence ended, but he remained in U.S. custody until 2010, unsuccessfully fighting extradition. Convicted in France of money laundering, he was extradited in 2011 to Panama, where he had been convicted in absentia of corruption, embezzlement, and murder, to serve his sentences there.

See his America's Prisoner: The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega (1997, with P. Eisner); R. M. Koster and G. S. Borbón, In the Time of Tyrants (1990).

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