San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Venezuelan Vice President accuses refugee of murder plot

CARACAS – Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday accused former police superintendent Henry López, who has been a political refugee in Costa Rica since Venezuelan authorities accused him of involvement in a 1986 massacre, of planning to assassinate him and legislative president Diosdado Cabello.

“The assassin Henry López Sisco is in Costa Rica still conspiring, and he is one of the people behind plans to assassinate Diosdado Cabello or me, something that he’ll never accomplish,” Maduro said during a speech before lawmakers.

Last month, the government denounced a group of “ultra-right” Venezuelans and foreigners who they said had “infiltrated” the country and planned to kill Maduro and Cabello. Officials promised a “heavy hand” in response to the alleged plan. 

López was boss of DISIP – a disbanded police unit – and is accused of murder for allegedly orchestrating the “Yumare Massacre,” in which nine activists accused of being leftist guerrillas were assassinated in the western state of Yaracuy in 1986.

In 2009, Venezuela requested the extradition López, accusing him of being “one of the most important hit men” in Venezuela and “responsible for the massacre of university students and teachers in the 1970s.”

López has lived in Costa Rica since 2006, and in 2008, he obtained refugee status, which prevents his extradition. 

However, Costa Rican officials have said they will consider revoking his refugee status if evidence emerges that he committed a crime.

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