July 17th, 2013
09:04 AM ET

Cuba: It's our weapons on N.K. ship

It was a mystery that Panama's president said his country was struggling to solve.

What was the massive military equipment hidden under hundreds of thousands of sacks of brown sugar on a North Korean boat? Where did it come from? And where was it going before investigators seized the vessel near the Panama Canal?

Hours after Panama said it would ask U.S. and British officials for help solving the puzzle, Cuba gave an answer Tuesday night.

In addition to 10,000 tons of sugar, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said, the shipment contained "240 metric tons of obsolete defensive weapons" sent to North Korea "to be repaired and returned to Cuba."

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Filed under: Cuba • North Korea • Panama
December 11th, 2011
06:17 PM ET

Panama's ex-ruler Noriega returns home after 22 years

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega arrived Sunday evening in his home country, nearly 22 years after U.S. forces forcibly removed him from office.

The 77-year old was expected to head straight to prison to serve time for crimes committed during his rule. He will be flown to and housed in an individual cell in El Renacer, a medium-security facility in Gamboa, the government said.

Noriega arrived at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City.

"I think it has historic and symbolic significance," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, about the former leader's return.

"It's a sense of closure for the Panamanian people. He clearly was a dictator for six years and presided over assassinations, disappearances and killing of opposition leaders. And so I think that it's something that was unfinished business and I think it's important for Panama to have a sense of closure," he said.

Noriega's extradition process began Sunday morning with a flight from Paris to Madrid. He was in Spanish police custody during a four-hour layover before leaving Madrid Sunday afternoon on a flight to Panama City, a spokesman for Spain's airport authority said.

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Filed under: Manuel Noriega • Panama
November 23rd, 2011
11:31 AM ET

Noriega can be extradited to Panama, French court says

A French appeals court issued an opinion Wednesday that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega can be extradited to his home country, a court spokeswoman said.

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Filed under: France • Manuel Noriega • Panama
Congress passes free-trade deals with 3 nations
The White House and Republicans say trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will create U.S. jobs.
October 12th, 2011
09:29 PM ET

Congress passes free-trade deals with 3 nations

[Updated at 9:28 p.m.] Congress voted Wednesday on a bipartisan basis to pass free-trade bills with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

President Barack Obama, who dined Thursday at a Korean restaurant with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and is to welcome him Thursday on a state visit to the White House, sent the trade deals to Congress last week.

The White House, Republicans and big business groups have said the deals would create jobs in the United States. The deals could spur $13 billion annually in new exports and "support tens of thousands of jobs," a senior administration official has said.

In a statement issued by the Office of the Press Secretary, Obama called the agreements "a major win" for the nation. "Tonight's vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label 'Made in America,' support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property," he said, promising to sign the bills.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the agreements "will make it easier for American companies to sell their products to South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which will create jobs here at home."

Union groups and some Democrats have opposed the bills, expressing doubt that they would create jobs.

The U.S. agriculture industry has been calling for the free-trade agreement, which could open new markets for beef, wheat and soybeans. The U.S. auto industry is also watching, as the deal with South Korea would mean a decline in tariffs aimed squarely at Detroit automakers.

House Republicans have voiced support for the deals.

"These three trade agreements will support American jobs and help create opportunities to expand for American businesses," Speaker John Boehner said last week in a statement.

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Filed under: Colombia • Panama • Politics • South Korea
Strong earthquake jolts Panama
April 30th, 2011
06:27 AM ET

Strong earthquake jolts Panama

[Updated at 6:27 a.m.] Vanessa del Leon, who works at a hotel in David, said she felt the quake, whose epicenter was 110 miles south of the city.

"Everyone started screaming. We heard a lot of things breaking and computer keyboards smashing on the floor," she said. "This hotel has eight floors and it swayed like a palm tree."

The USGS had said the quake was a magnitude 6.1, but later revised it to 6.0. It hit at 3:19 a.m. local time, according to the USGS.

[Posted at 5:43 a.m.] A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck southern Panama on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake hit 384 kilometers (238 miles) southwest of the capital, Panama City.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

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Filed under: Panama
Footballer in Colombia could face jail for kicking owl off field
Deportivo Pereira's Luis Moreno, seen playing for the Panamanian national team in 2009, could face charges over kicking an owl.
March 1st, 2011
12:14 PM ET

Footballer in Colombia could face jail for kicking owl off field

A professional soccer player in Colombia faces up to three months in jail for kicking an opposing team's lucky owl, which had been been hit by a ball after landing on the field Sunday. The owl died Tuesday.

The owl was considered a good luck charm for the Atlético Junior squad in Barranquilla and lived in its Metropolitan Stadium.

Luis Moreno, a Panamanian player for Deportivo Pereira, was met with chants of "Murderer! Murderer! Murderer!" after kicking the owl and had to leave the stadium under heavy police guard, according to the Daily Mail in London. (The Daily Mail has video of the owl kick, or you can check it out on YouTube.)

For those too squeamish to watch the footage, which the Daily Mail warns constitutes animal cruelty, a Pereira defender chases a Junior attacker into the penalty box, wins the ball from him and clears it, poorly, hitting the owl that had landed on the field.

The referee stops play, and Moreno trots over and kicks the bird off the field, a distance of about three yards.

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Filed under: Animals • Colombia • Nature • Panama • Soccer • Sports • World
November 9th, 2010
12:58 PM ET

Pirates use hijacked vessel to attack Spanish warship

Somali pirates have used a Japanese-owned freighter they seized in October to stage an attack on a Spanish warship, the European Union’s anti-piracy task force reports.

On Saturday night, pirates aboard the MV Izumi, a Panamanian-flagged vessel they captured on October 10, attacked the SPS Infanta Cristina, a Spanish corvette, as it escorted a ship chartered by the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia, according to a statement from the European Union Naval Force public affairs office.

As the pirates attacked, the Infanta Cristina placed itself between the Izumi and the AU ship, the MV Petra 1, which was carrying peacekeepers, the statement said.

“The attack was disrupted, and the pirates fled the scene,” the statement said.

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Filed under: Crime • Japan • Kenya • Panama • Pirates • Spain
July 7th, 2010
08:39 AM ET

Noriega sentenced to seven years in prison

[Updated at 8:39 a.m.] Manuel Noriega could be eligible for parole as early as next year, his lawyer told CNN.

[Posted at 8:25 a.m.] Former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega was sentenced to seven years in prison for money-laundering by a French court Wednesday.

Noriega was also fined 2.2 million euros ($2.7 million), the amount he was accused of laundering through French banks.

The former dictator looked shaken and disconsolate at the sentence, which means he will be behind bars until he is 83 years old.

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Filed under: Justice • Manuel Noriega
April 26th, 2010
06:28 PM ET

Former Panamanian leader to be extradited

[Updated at 6:27 p.m.] Read the full CNN.com story

[Updated at 5:16 p.m.] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a surrender warrant, which was the last step to make Noriega's extradition possible, State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet told CNN.

Noriega, who has been in U.S. custody since serving a sentence here, was placed aboard an Air France flight to Paris by U.S. marshals Monday afternoon, a senior federal law enforcement officer told CNN.

[Posted at 5:09 p.m.] Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was cleared by the United States for extradition to France, the State Department said Monday.

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Filed under: Manuel Noriega • World