Felicidad Sieiro de Noriega
Felicidad Sieiro de Noriega is the wife of late Panamanian dictator and military officer, Manuel Noriega. Her husband’s death at 83 marks the end of a chapter in the country’s history.
The era in which Noriega exercised absolute control over Panama is long past — but his ill-fated reign continues to cast a long shadow both in his home country and the United States, with whom he had a complex relationship, that of an ally and later its presidential counterpart.
The CIA paid Noriega for information even as Noriega climbed the ranks of his own country’s military intelligence division, ultimately becoming its chief officer and one of the principal lieutenants of Panama’s strongman at the time, Omar Torrijos.
After Torrijos died in a plane crash in 1981 —Noriega emerged from the free-for-all with the mantle of commander of the combined Panamanian Defense Forces in 1983 — and in doing so, assumed absolute power in all but official name.
It wasn’t long before Noriega’s benefactor, the U.S., would turn on him, however. Evidence of the Panamanian dictator’s extrajudicial killings and dealings with drug cartels mounted until it was nearly impossible to ignore — no matter how helpful he had proven to the CIA in the past.
In 1989 the U.S ousted him from power an in 1990 he was convicted in federal court.
At the time of his death he was serving a prison sentence for corruption and having opponents killed.
Noriega who died from complications of brain surgery in Panama, was married to Felicidad Sieiro with whom he fathered three daughters, Thays, Sandra and Lorena Noriega.
According to Frederick Kempe’s book “Divorcing the Dictator: America’s Bungled Affair with Noriega” Felicidad Sieiro came from a ‘proud, middle-class clan of Basque extraction.”
According to Kempe, Felicidad’s family wasn’t happy that their daughter ‘of pure Basque breeding’ had chosen to marry Noriega –described as a ‘homely police man of dark and cratered skin and uncertain parentage.’
At the time Felicidad Sieiro worked as a local grade school teacher. She and Noriega allegedly bonded through their mutual ‘introversion.’
The two met at a dance for local schoolteachers –which was attended by members of the national guard. Instead of dancing the two spent hours talking in the corner.
Felicidad Sieiro de Noriega struggled with her husband’s infidelities from the beginning of their marriage. By their second anniversary and while pregnant with second daughter, Sandra –she found her husband in her bed with another woman. She allgedly tried to divorce him but forgave him after the birth of their child.
Felicidad Sieiro de Noriega did divorce Noriega but only after he was convicted in federal court by the US in the early 90’s.
Later in 2000, according to Panama America, Felicidad Sieiro de Noriega then 51, was said to have been convicted of money laundry in a France court. However, the publication also noted her whereabouts where unknown.