manuel antonio noriega

Panama: The return of Manuel Antonio Noriega


Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega will face his country’s justice for the first time in 21 years. (Getty Images)

By SANDRO MAIRATA
Channel: International Affairs

The upcoming arrival of former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega to Panama, forces a country with more urgent issues – the rise of drug trafficking, which has led to an urgent agreement with Ecuador to fight the cocaine routes; the rising crime rates, including some recent massacres; and the much-criticized suppression of the indigenous ngöbe bugle population – to take a look in the mirror. Until recently, Noriega, the man who ruled from 1983 until the U.S. invasion of 1989, had become a memory, a dark figure from a past era.

Now the darkness is returning in the flesh.

Noriega used to be the CIA’s most trusted man in Central America until excessive profits received from the same drug dealing and guerrilla operations he was supposed to be fighting against led to his demise. After being captured during President George Bush, Sr.’s tenure, Noriega had spent 21 years in jails between the U.S. and France. However, after France approved his extradition a week ago, Noriega will be repatriated on October 1st, and will face Panama’s justice for the first time.

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