The President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela tweeted the news of his death on Tuesday morning.

Noriega was a Cold War ally of the United States in a region where Soviet-backed insurgencies threatened American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere.

However, the government rejected their appeals, and said Noriega would return to prison once he recovered from the brain tumour surgery. He added that Noriega's daughters and family members "deserve a funeral in peace". Noriega's family was of Colombian descent and were not financially well off.

The next day Noriega was transferred to Miami for prosecution that would be sentenced to 40 years in prison for drug trafficking. In 1986, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution calling on Panama to remove Noriega from control of the Panamanian Defense Force. Noriega served as head of military intelligence to Gen. Omar Torrijos, who seized power in a military coup in 1968. He was 83-years-old.

Noriega was classified as a US prisoner of war under the Geneva Conventions, thereby entitled to visits from the International Red Cross, continued use of his military uniform and recognition of his status as commander - and only member - of the long-defunct Panamanian military, which was disbanded after the USA invasion.

Manuel Antonio Noriega was born poor in Panama City on February 11, 1934, and was raised by foster parents. After heavy diplomatic posturing between the US and the Holy See, Noriega surrendered on January 3. When the people of the country rose in protest against his dictatorial methods, he declared a national emergency and shut down media outlets and sent his opponents on exile. Around this time Noriega reportedly goes onto the CIA's payroll. The U.S. Congress ended economic aid and military assistance to Panama in 1987.

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Despite his rule, Noriega was never elected president.

After a USA -backed coup attempt failed in October 1989, then-President George H.W. Bush took a more direct step before year's end. However, that relationship soured when he started politicking with drug traffickers.

Noriega was to be released in 2007 but the United States extradited him to France, where he was convicted in absentia in 1999. "Now he is commander in chief and said "no" to our interests". Ezra Angel, Noriega's lawyer, said the former strongman's three daughters would not issue any public statements. It was just months before Noriega would surrender power amid a USA military operation against his government.

After several days on the run, Noriega was allowed to enter the Vatican Embassy on Christmas Eve.

There, he was convicted of a host of charges in federal court.

He was flown to the United States where a U.S. court in 1992 convicted him of drug trafficking and money laundering charges and sentenced him to 40 years in prison, although this was later reduced to 30 years.