San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Ortega Defends Former Dictator Noriega

President Daniel Ortega this week sent greetings to former Panamanian dictator and convicted drug trafficker Gen. Manuel Noriega, who last April was extradited from the United States to France where he faces money laundering charges (NT, April 30).

During an address to the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), which held a session in Managua June 30, Ortega gave a special public greeting to PARLACEN representative Sandra Noriega, the daughter of the former Panamanian strongman, and said to send greetings to her father, whom the Nicaraguan president referred to as a “victim of war games” and “U.S. destabilization policies” in Central America.

Ortega said the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 was the U.S. “punishment” for Gen. Noriega’s refusal to invade Nicaragua. Gen. Noriega, who was to face trial this week in France, made similar comments last week from jail.

“We all know that Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega worked closely with George H.W. Bush when he was head of the CIA before he was President of United States,” Ortega said, adding that the former U.S. president tried to “involve” Noriega in the war on Nicaragua. “And when he didn’t accept Panama’s involvement, (the U.S. military) came to punish!”

Ortega went on to say that U.S. President Barack Obama’s “credibility and image” has suffered as a result of last year’s coup in Honduras.

–Nica Times

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