Categories: world

Battle of bands: Duels concerts to help the Venezuelans in limbo

CUCUTA, Colombia (Reuters) – Tensions along the border between Colombia and Venezuela on the support to alleviate widespread food and medicine shortages in the socialist country will be accompanied by music on Friday as rival concerts kick on both sides of the border. The scene of the upcoming concert "Venezuela Aid Live" at Tiendita's cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela is depicted in Cucuta, Colombia February 21, 2019. REUTERS / Edgard Garrido British billionaire Richard Branson supports "Venezuela Aid Live" in the Colombian border town of Cucuta, where he and 35 artists hope to retrieve $ 100 million for food and medical help. Some 250,000 people are expected at the free event, which will feature performances by Alejandro Sanz, Maluma, Luis Fonsi and Carlos Vives. Donations will be received online and via direct deposits. Meanwhile, Venezuelan is planning President Nicolas Maduro, who denies any crisis in his country, to plan two shows near Cucuta at Tienditas and Simon Bolivar border bridges linking Venezuela and Colombia. It is not necessary to say help, Maduro has refused to allow international aid to Venezuela despite often empty supermarket shelves, long lines for state subsidized food and hospitals lacking basic assets and medicines. Political turbulence and economic collapse including hyperinflation have set Venezuela on a downward spiral. The Tienditas event will take place near a Colombian warehouse that stores hundreds of tons of international humanitarian aid that the opposition aims to bring into Venezuela on Saturday. Resistance leader Juan Guaido, recognized as Venezuelan's legitimate…

CUCUTA, Colombia (Reuters) – Tensions along the border between Colombia and Venezuela on the support to alleviate widespread food and medicine shortages in the socialist country will be accompanied by music on Friday as rival concerts kick on both sides of the border.

The scene of the upcoming concert “Venezuela Aid Live” at Tiendita’s cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela is depicted in Cucuta, Colombia February 21, 2019. REUTERS / Edgard Garrido

British billionaire Richard Branson supports “Venezuela Aid Live” in the Colombian border town of Cucuta, where he and 35 artists hope to retrieve $ 100 million for food and medical help.

Some 250,000 people are expected at the free event, which will feature performances by Alejandro Sanz, Maluma, Luis Fonsi and Carlos Vives. Donations will be received online and via direct deposits.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan is planning President Nicolas Maduro, who denies any crisis in his country, to plan two shows near Cucuta at Tienditas and Simon Bolivar border bridges linking Venezuela and Colombia.

It is not necessary to say help, Maduro has refused to allow international aid to Venezuela despite often empty supermarket shelves, long lines for state subsidized food and hospitals lacking basic assets and medicines.

Political turbulence and economic collapse including hyperinflation have set Venezuela on a downward spiral.

The Tienditas event will take place near a Colombian warehouse that stores hundreds of tons of international humanitarian aid that the opposition aims to bring into Venezuela on Saturday.

Resistance leader Juan Guaido, recognized as Venezuelan’s legitimate leader of dozens of countries, left Caracas in a caravan of supporters on Thursday, to ensure that he personally provided support to Venezuela.

Guaido, who invoked the constitution to adopt an interim presidency last month and condemning Maduro as a usurper, has not provided details of his plans. Some political analysts speculated Venezuelan soldiers can pave the way.

LOYALTY TEST

Colombia’s Migration Authority said in a statement on Thursday that it will limit border crossings on Saturday from 5 am to midnight for people participating in the aid handover.

A border event can test the military’s loyalty to Maduro if the troops are ordered to turn away, analysts said.

In Cucuta, residents are cautious about what can happen, and many say they will stay indoors, away from any problems.

“Everyone is at the top of what will happen,” says Carolina Guzman, 38, who owns a restaurant. “The important thing is that the support comes over and things start to change there, so we can also come back to this.”

This week, Branson said he hopes that the concert will encourage Venezuelan soldiers to defy orders from Maduro and allow humanitarian aid across the border.

Opposition figures have suggested forming human chains, while the Brazilian government promised to deliver support in trucks driven by Venezuelans.

“I don’t think the military will let go of the aid and it will be another conflict. I am so worried that my family is over there,” said 40-year-old Venezuelan school guard Eduardo Bustillos, who came to Cucuta 20 days ago with his son.

Some aids are also stored on the Dutch island of Curacao, and a boat with 250 tons of assistance is on its way from Puerto Rico.

Workers set up a platform for the upcoming concert “Venezuela Aid Live” at Tiendita’s cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia February 20, 2019. REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez

Maduro said on Thursday that he considered closing the border with Colombia and closing the border with Brazil. He has already closed shipping with Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire.

Maduro has called the aid that stores a “provocation” and accuses the Trump administration, which acknowledges Guaido but has imposed persecution sanctions against the government, to try to force its ouster.

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Steven GrattanWriting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Helen Murphy; Editing by Helen Murphy and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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