Manuel Noriega is dead

Manuel Noriega

Manuel Antonio Noriega, the  former dictator of Panama and one time ally of the United States has died. He was 83.

President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama announced Noriega’s death on Twitter early Tuesday morning.

Varela’s post read, “The death of Manuel A. Noriega closes a chapter in our history; his daughters and his relatives deserve to bury him in peace.”

Noriega died around 11 p.m. Monday at Santo Tomás Hospital in Panama City, a hospital employee confirmed. An official cause of death was not immediately available.

Noriega had been in intensive care since March 7 after complications developed from surgery to remove what his lawyer described as a benign brain tumor. His daughters told reporters at the hospital in March that he had a brain hemorrhage after the procedure. He had been granted house arrest in January to prepare for the operation.

His medical problems came on the heels of a legal odyssey that had begun with the invasion and led to prison terms in the United States, France and finally Panama. While imprisoned abroad he suffered strokes, hypertension and other ailments.

After returning to Panama on December 11, 2011, he began serving long sentences for murder, embezzlement and corruption in connection with his rule during the 1980s.

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