The time Heavy Metal music forced Manuel Noriega to surrender

The time Heavy Metal music forced Manuel Noriega to surrender

Christmas Day, 1989


U.S. troops man a roadblock on Dec. 26, 1989, in Panama City.

Though metal music has mostly always been loud and irritating, on this day in metal history it took on a whole new meaning.

The repressive military leader had holed himself up in the Vatican’s embassy in Panama City, after President George Bush Senior invaded Panama.

Noriega was facing a US indictment for drug-trafficking, as well as claims he had rigged the 1989 election. 

The embassy was surrounded by US troops, but he refused to give himself up.

As he rapidly ran out of options, Noriega took refuge at the Vatican Embassy in Panama City. In deference to diplomatic protocol, U.S. forces did not enter the embassy.

So here’s what the army decided to do…

Apparently Noriega was a opera lover so the army decided to setup speakers and blast loud music in an attempt to have him come out.

After 3 days of constant blaring Noriega surrendered to U.S. troops.

Stories have since came out that the loud music was not directly aimed at Noriega but at the media so they couldn’t overhear any negotiations that were going on between Noriega and the U.S. Army.

Guns N’ Roses tracks like Welcome to the Jungle were featured on the “Noriega playlist”

Other songs included Van Halen’s Panama and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Alice Cooper, and “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister and You Got Another Thing Comin’ by Judas Priest among others.

Not everyone was happy with the military’s approach, including the White House, and the music was stopped after several days. President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, said afterward that he thought the use of high-volume music was “undignified.”

On Jan. 3, 1990, Noriega surrendered to the U.S. forces, though not until after he’d been treated to a version of “I Fought The Law”.

Noriega was flown to Miami, tried and convicted of drug trafficking, and spent nearly two decades in U.S. prisons.


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