KIRKWOOD, MO. (KMOX) – A dictator’s wristwatch continues to tick in Kirkwood, and the current owner of the watch, former CNN journalist Charles Jaco, has a story to tell about how he got it.
Jaco says Manuel Noriega’s security forces called “the Dobermans” tear-gassed and beat him while he was covering a 1988 demonstration in Pananma. Noriega later put Jaco on a list of “enemies of the state” for his reporting on the Panamanian elections, but Jaco got his payback when U.S. forces bombed Noriega’s headquarters, and Jaco sneaked in looking for souvenirs and found a wristwatch with the dictators initials on it.
“So a guy from the 82nd Airborne and I went down there looking for souvenirs,” he says. “We found Tony’s office and on the inside the guy from the 82nd was going through a bunch of stuff, and he said ‘look, I’ve got a bunch of his business cards’, and I opened a drawer and said ‘that’s ok, I’ve got his watch.”
The luxury sports watch still runs, but Jaco says he doesn’t wear it all the time as he once did. He says the first thing he thought when he heard Noriega was dead on Monday was “good.” Noriega died late Monday after suffering a brain hemorrhage resulting from surgery.