On Friday, music fans and humanitarians from all around the globe can see some of their favorite musicians take the stage at Richard Branson’s Venezuela Aid Live, a concert that was organized to raise funds that will help bring much needed aid and relief to the people of Venezuela.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) February 15, 2019
Branson, the Virgin Group billionaire, announced last week that Venezuela Aid Live will take place in the Colombian town of Cucuta, just west of the Venezuelan border. Cucuta has been a new home for refugees who fled the poverty, starvation, and violence that have plagued their homeland under the Maduro regime. The concert is expected to bring in hundreds of thousands of attendees to the border town and will also be live streamed here.
Branson hopes to raise $100 million over the next two months through donations inspired by the concert. “Venezuela is suffering and not that long ago it was the wealthiest country in South America. Now, it is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western hemisphere,” said Branson in a video he shared on his blog. He told the Associated Press that he was not receiving funding from any government, nor does he support aid being brought into Venezuela by force. “[We’re] hoping that sense prevails and that the [Venezuelan] military allows the bridge to be open so that much-needed supplies can be sent across.”
He has, however, been conversing with opposition leader Juan Guaido in order to understand what manner of aid the people of Venezuela most urgently need. Branson was openly critical of the Maduro regime’s decision to reject humanitarian aid for its citizens, telling the AP that “[if] they stop the aid coming through and there are pictures of hundreds of thousands of people wanting to come through from both sides, that will send out a potent message, a very powerful message to Venezuela, to everybody, that there is aid that is trying to get across, but the army is stopping it.”
The end game of Venezuela Aid Live would be not only to bring aid to the people, but also to impress upon the world that Venezuela needs to hold a fair election that reflects the will of the people.
Maduro Administration Announces Own Concert
Maduro is unlikely to be coaxed into opening the border on Friday; instead, his regime has announced its own competing aid concert just east of Venezuela Aid Live. “People from all over the world want to take part in this message of love, solidarity and denunciation against the aggression that they’re trying against the Venezuelan people,” said a spokesperson from the Maduro administration. Maduro has described the offer of U.S. aid as a scheme to “enslave” his country, insisting that Venezuelans aren’t beggars (despite announcing an impending shipment of aid from Russia).
While Maduro’s concert has yet to reveal its lineup of musicians, Venezuela Aid Live will include Luis Fonsi, Manu Chao, Lele Pons, and Paulina Rubio, who are all donating their talent and time to make this production happen.