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News > World

Former Panama Dictator Noriega Apologizes for His Actions

  • Manuel Noriega is 81 years old and was extradited from France to Panama in 2011.

    Manuel Noriega is 81 years old and was extradited from France to Panama in 2011. | Photo: EFE

Published 25 June 2015

Noriega’s six-year-rule ended after the deadly 1989 U.S. military invasion.  

Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, imprisoned for drug trafficking, political assassinations and money laundering during his rule, pleaded for forgiveness in a televised message to his country Wednesday.

"I apologize to anyone who feels offended, hurt, injured or humiliated by my actions or my superiors in compliance with orders, or my subordinates at the time of my civil and military government’s responsibility," Noriega said in a statement read at the national channel Telemetro.

The last Central American dictator, also known as “Panama’s strongman,” was convicted to three, 20-year sentences for the political assassinations of opponent Hugo Spada, as well as Gen. Moses Giroldi, who attempted a rebellion against Noriega in 1989. The 81-year-old man also served time for the Albrook Massacre, during which several soldiers were killed for revolting against Noriega.

Noriega’s plea was received with skepticism on social media, with some decrying that it was not genuine and that, while others insisting that the people have not forgotten his crimes.

“May God forgive you. The people say: forbidden to forget.”

“Dedicated to the assassin, oppressing, and drug-trafficking dictator Noriega. Prison is the destiny that he chose. #Forbidden to Forget.”

“I just heard Noriega’s statement, it doesn’t mean anything else but what he felt like saying. How arrogant, this is not how you apologize.”

In his position as chief of the Panamanian intelligence service, Noriega benefited from drug trafficking while receiving training by the CIA in the 1950s. After the CIA financed his activities and facilitated his assent to power in 1983, Noriega allowed the U.S. to use Panama to support rebels fighting Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

RELATED: Panama Court to Try Noriega for 1970 Murder of Leftist Leader

The U.S. support of Noriega soured and on the pretense of stopping drug trafficiking, George H.W. Bush ordered an invasion of the country in 1989. The two week military campaign caused up to 5,000 deaths, mostly civilians from low-income areas in Panama City.

Noriega gave himself in to U.S. forces after they spent three consecutive days playing Heavy metal outside the building where he took refuge.

After being imprisoned in Miami and Paris, Noriega was extradited in 2011 from France to Panama, where he has been put in a low-risk prison.

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