Listen to the playlist that ousted Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega

The death of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega brings back memories of the dictator’s last hours of freedom. U.S. special operators tried to force his surrender using loud rock music — music now gathered together on two handy Spotify playlists.

Noriega was ousted by Operation Just Cause, the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama. But before he was captured by American troops, he took asylum in the Panamanian location of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See — a diplomatic mission of the Vatican.

Manuel Noriega Just Cause DEA USAF

Gen. Manuel Noriega is escorted onto a U.S. Air Force aircraft by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The former Panamanian leader will be flown to the United States, where he will be held for trial on drug charges. (DoD Photo)

Instead of storming a building owned by a neutral, noncombatant foreign power, the Navy SEALs and Delta Force operators developed Operation Nifty Package. It was a psyops mission, designed to force Noriega to rescind his right of asylum in the Vatican-owned Embassy.


When Pope John Paul II refused to comment on the incident and the Papal Nuncio wouldn’t force the dictator to leave, the U.S. Army Psychological Operations Command began to blare a “Rock n’ Roll Assault on Noriega…for three full days.


Noriega was captured and sent to Miami where he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug and money laundering charges. He was extradited to France in 2010 to stand trial for money laundering there. Noriega was then extradited to Panama the next year to finish his sentences for the disappearances of political prisoners in the 1980s.

He died of a brain tumor in May 2017.

You can read the entire list of music from a FOIA request made by The George Washington University.

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