The United States has had its fair share of world police actions it’s taken since the end of World War II, and no, I’m not even about to go into the political nature of these. That’s for another blog and another group of rabid people to discuss… serious political talk is verboten here at The Nest. Instead, for this week’s Flashback Friday, I want to merely look back at one of the more interesting third world country invasions the US pulled off in my lifetime, as well as the man at the center of it all. In case you have forgotten him, the charming chap’s name in the above mug shot is Manuel Noriega, who for much of the 80’s was the most powerful man in Panama.
24 years ago today on December 20, 1989, Noriega’s former boss President George H.W. Bush launched an invasion of Panama intent on removing Noriega from power there and hauling him back to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking charges. Noriega had also done some other bad things we weren’t fond of… like rigging presidential elections to keep his
puppet man in power (a practice we certainly frown upon here in the US), making threats against US troops in the Panama Canal Zone, and for just looking like he had an ass for a face. And maybe the CIA wanted to take back those service awards they had given him for being on their payroll for about 25 years prior to becoming Panama’s de facto ruler.
Noriega wasn’t about to give himself up quietly, and he fought bravely against the American invaders…. for four whole days. By Christmas Day, he had holed himself up in the Holy See’s embassy in Panama City, a place the American troops were forbidden to invade (as if that makes sense). The most enduring gag of the entire Noriega saga occurred during this weeklong standoff, as the US troops devised an absolutely ingenious way to smoke out the dictator and have him begging to surrender….
They bombarded the compound with loud rock music.
Yes, we made the Panamanian strongman crack by forcing him to listen to heavy metal for days on end! Nevermind that we could have sent in Arnold Schwarzenegger or Chuck Norris to drag him out by his potholed head, instead we sent in Metallica and Anthrax to get the bad guy where it really hurts, the eardrums. If the government were smart, they’d make a mix tape of some of the most annoying music ever created and just blast it on eleven into the countries whose leaders we do not approve of. We could then establish our place as leader of the free world without a single drop of blood being spilled…
When the final guitar stopped wailing in Panama City, Noriega was brought back to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking, money laundering, and racketeering. All the while, since he was captured during a military effort, he enjoyed having prisoner of war status… and was treated to an exclusive jail cell with more amenities in it than you have in your home right now. Apparently, this was in the Geneva Convention somewhere…
In 1992, Noriega was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in
his new Presidential suite prison. As far as those of us among the unwashed masses were concerned, this was the end of the Manuel Noriega saga, and he subsequently dropped out of our collective conscience. So, what has Noriega been up to the last two decades anyway?
As it turns out, he has been getting the grand tour of the world’s finest penitentiaries. Because Noriega was on his best behavior while lounging in his luxurious accommodations behind bars, he was granted an early release on September 9, 2007. Instead of running out of the prison gates and raising his hands to the sky to celebrate his newfound freedom, he instead found a line of other countries waiting to haul him in to fill some of their empty jail cells. France got first dibs at Noriega, but not before he fought extradition there for three years… all the time continuing to live it up in American custody getting the prisoner of war treatment. The French finally got their turn at Noriega in April 2010 and sent him to a prison with slightly fewer perks than his hotel in the US had.
The country that really wanted to put Noriega in its penal system though was his old country Panama. They whined and cried as the US sent him to France, and continued pestering France to give him up to them so he could live the sweet life behind bars in a third world country. Either Noriega or Panama was too much of a pain in the derriere for the French, because after just a year and a half in French custody, he was extradited back to Panama in December 2011 where he has been in prison ever since.
And so goes life when you are a soldier, a guerrilla, a spy, a drug dealer, a dictator, and a globetrotting felon. Today The Nest salutes Manuel Noriega, a man who has done it all and paid the price everywhere. You may have a face only a mother could love, but as I’m sure you’ve found out during your illustrious career in incarceration, sodomy doesn’t have a face…
Snorts. I could go a lot of different places with this but I can’t. XOXO – Bacon
Thanks. I aim to make anything funny…
Dictators only come in ugly. I keep that word especially for dictators. Dictators are the scourge of this planet .Conscienceless, megalomaniacally narcissists. Often charismatic. Big words for a big problem. great post.
Thank you! Manny wasn’t just ugly on the outside, he was ugly on the inside….
For a very short time, Noriega was THE foreign enemy. He temporarily ousted Kadaffi (sp?) in that role, but soon Saddam Hussein came about and we forgot all about Noriega.
Yep. And we didn’t give Saddam the generous treatment we gave Mr. Noriega…
I’d almost forgotten about this guy!
I’m guessing all the other charges against him paled into insignificance against “having an ass for a face”.
He’s hoping that after Panama prison he gets banged up somewhere else as he’s currently writing a travel guide – “Prison Edition”. In case you get caught, where will you find the best in-cell amenities?
LOL, that was exactly my thought when I found out what this guy has been up to since he disappeared from the map… how many people have served time in so many different countries? And without even enjoying a day of freedom in between!
Yes, there is no worse crime than having ass face! That is probably why nobody will let him walk the streets in freedom ever again!
I had forgotten they got him by rock and roll. I think you have a fabulous idea, I wonder why “music combat” never became a thing?
I blame the defense industry. They’d rather the government spend billions of dollars on fancy rockets and bombers than go down to Goodwill and buy a few old heavy metal cassettes for $5….