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Hugo Spadafora

Hugo Spadafora (born in 1940) was a Panamanian doctor and guerrilla fighter in Guinea-Bissau and Nicaragua. He criticized the military in Panama, which led to his murder in 1985.

Born in Chitre, Republic of Panama, Spadafora was a doctor, graduated from the University of Bologne, in Italy. He served as a combat doctor with the independence guerrilla of Guinea-Bissau. Originally a critic of the military regime headed by Omar Torrijos, he served as its Vice-Minister of Health. In 1978 he organized the Victoriano Lorenzo Brigade, formed by a group of Panamanian fighters to fight against the Anastasio Somoza regime.

Concerned about the increased Soviet and Cuban influence in the Sandinista regime of Nicaragua and the delay of free elections, Spadafora joined the Sandino Revolutionary Front (FRS) alongside Eden Pastora ("Commandante Zero"), hero of the August 1978 seizure of Somoza's palace. The rise of Manuel Noriega as authoritarian ruler of Panama compelled Spadafora to denounce Noriega's protection of drug trafficking. Spadafora was detained by Noriega's forces when entering Panama from Costa Rica in September, 1985, and his decapitated body was later found. Then President Nicolas Ardito Barletta[?] tried to set up a commission to investigate the murder but was forced to resign by Noriega, which increased suspicions that the military ordered the beheading.

It was not until the administration of President Guillermo Endara[?] that a court found Noriega in absentia and other followers guilty of a conspiracy to murder Spadafora.

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