There is a reason to celebrate when a ruthless dictator finally dies in this world. And, while we should not ever celebrate the demise of someone this one is an exception in my opinion. Manuel Noriega, the ruthless dictator of Panama has finally died at the ripe old age of 83.
If you remember correctly, Noriega was a convicted drug dealer and one of Central America’s military strongman. Noriega was at one time friendly with the United States, but only because of its location to the Panama Canal. However, the friendship quickly went downhill and the United States invaded Panama in 1989. Shortly after that Noriega was eventually convicted of drug charges in 1991.
Noriega then spent close to 20 years in prison before being extradited to France and then eventually returned to Panama. However, instead of Noriega dying old and peaceful in his home country, he went a much different route.
The United States wanted to bring Noriega to justice, but we just couldn’t seem to capture him. Then one of the strangest military operations in history ensued. The Operation was titled Operation Just Cause and capturing Noriega proved to be harder than anyone initially thought. But, that is when the military thought up a secret weapon which was some good old fashioned rock ‘n roll.
You see after Noriega fled Panama City he eventually found refuge in the closest thing the Vatican has to an embassy, the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See. That is when the United States became stumped. How was the military to draw him out of there without causing a scene? The United States wrote the Vatican asking to push Noriega out, but it was bad timing considering this happened around Christmas.
And, that things became even more interesting.
Here is more from Americas Freedom Fighters:
Today the Central American nation has little in common with the bombed-out neighborhoods where Noriega hid during the 1989 invasion, before being famously smoked out of his refuge at the Vatican Embassy by incessant, loud rock music blared by U.S. troops.
Telegraph reports that help came in the unlikely form of glam rock. For Operation Nifty Package – the extraction of Noriega – special operatives set up enormous speakers around the building, blasting out the local US military radio station, SCN.
Noriega, an opera-lover, was stuck listening to Oingo-Boingo. He found his eardrums under attack from heavy metal acts like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and KISS, alongside cringeworthy pop-mongers such as Rick Astley and New Kids on the Block. They only interrupted this onslaught of rock and pop for one day: December 25, when the station instead played back-to-back Christmas hits.
It was “a peculiar attempt to unnerve Noriega through questionable art,” as the historian Douglas G Brinkley writes in From Cold War to New World Order. “Blasting rock music was silly, childish, reproachable… but in some strange, postmodern way, it worked.”
After 10 days, with his ears ringing and a mob gathering outside the gates, the Holy See’s representative, Monsignor Jose Sebastian Laboa, told his guest he had to leave. Noriega agreed. He wrote two letters, one to his wife (“I go now on an adventure”, he told her) and one to the Pope, thanking him for his hospitality. In full military uniform, he walked through the Nunciature’s front gates – and was immediately tackled to the ground by a posse of US soldiers.
But what were the songs that broke his morale? Here is a sampling of some of the songs that brought this ruthless dictator down.
- (You’ve Got) Another Thing Coming — Judas Priest
- 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover — Paul Simon
- All Over But The Crying — Georgia Satellites
- All I Want is You — U2
- Big Shot — Billy Joel
- Blue Collar Man — Styx
- Born to Run — Bruce Springsteen
- Bring Down the Hammer — Georgia Satellites
- Change — Tears for Fears
- Cleaning Up The Town — The Bus Boys
- Crying in the Chapel — Brenda Lee
- Dancing in the Streets — David Bowie
- Danger Zone — Kenny Loggins
- Dead Man’s Party — Oingo Boingo
- Don’t Look Back — Boston
- Don’t Fear the Reaper — Blue Oyster Cult
- Don’t Close Your Eyes — Kix
- Eat My Shorts — Rick Dees
- Electric Spanking of War Babies — Funkadelic
Via The Telegraph:
Deep in the National Security Archive at George Washington University, you’ll find a report from those radio DJs detailing the part they played in bringing down a ruthless dictator.
“On 27 December someone who identified himself as a member of the PSYOPS [psychological operations] team from Fort Bragg called to tell us what they were doing with their loud speakers,” the report reads. But PSYOPS needn’t have bothered – the station team knew all about it already: the musical stand-off had already been covered on radio and TV news, and was given constant rolling coverage by CNN.
“We had been receiving requests with a ‘musical message’, for Noriega either by the words or the song title, but as soon as the media picked up on the story, those types of requests increased dramatically,” the report explains, listing 95 of the more amusing requests.
A few song-titles say it all. Thanks to their call-in request line, Noriega was repeatedly told he had “Nowhere to Run” and “No Particular Place to Go”. He was a “Prisoner of Rock and Roll”, with “No Alibis”, “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. His state of mind was imaginably best captured in a novelty single by one-hit-wonder Napoleon XIV: “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”
You can read the entire list of music HERE if you would like.
I have to admit this is pretty funny to me and I can’t stop laughing. Some of the songs on this list are just epic but brought this asshat to his knees. I am glad that this monster is gone and we can move on from that disaster already.
I think now in remembrance of Noriega I will listen to a little Blue Oyster Cult now, what about you?
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