Manuel Noriega
by Cameron Labrecque

1) Profile of your leader

In 1983, Manuel Noriega unified the armed forces into the Panamanian Defense Forces, promoted himself to the rank of general and became de facto leader of Panama. In 1989, Noriega canceled the presidential elections and attempted to rule through a puppet government. After a military coup against Noriega failed, the United States invaded Panama, and Noriega finally surrendered In January 1990.

2) Audio/Visual/Artistic Element

  • As the chief of military intelligence, he conducted a ruthless campaign against peasant guerrillas in western Panama, and there are allegations that he orchestrated the "disappearances" of political opponents. Noriega had earned a reputation as the most feared man in the country. Taking command of the army in 1983, Noriega entrenched himself as the dominant power in Panama and gave no sign of willingness to return the government to civilian control. He not only refused to relinquish power, but also engaged in election fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering, espionage against the United States and even murder. Alleging involvement in drug trafficking, the US authorities ordered his arrest in 1989 and 13,000 US troops invaded Panama to support the 12,000 already there. He surrendered in January 1990, and was taken to the USA for trial. He was found guilty in 1992 and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.

3) Creative Piece

4) Essential Question

What are the reasons why Manuel Noriega was such a bad leader and needed to be taken out of power?