AP

A look at rival Branson vs Maduro concerts for Venezuela

Feb 20, 2019, 5:37 AM | Updated: 5:39 am
Workers build the stage for the upcoming “Venezuela Aid Live” concert at the Tienditas Internat...
Workers build the stage for the upcoming “Venezuela Aid Live” concert at the Tienditas International Bridge on the outskirts of Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Billionaire Richard Branson is organizing the concert on Feb. 22 featuring Spanish-French singer Manu Chao, Mexican band Mana, Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz and Dominican artist Juan Luis Guerra. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Dueling concerts are being staged this week on both sides of Venezuela’s border with Colombia. After billionaire Richard Branson announced an aid concert in Colombia on Friday to benefit Venezuelans suffering food and medicine shortages amid their country’s economic crisis, Nicolas Maduro’s government ordered up a rival concert of its own.

Maduro denies any humanitarian crisis exists and has blocked food and medicine from the United States that is being warehoused on the Colombian border from entering Venezuela, claiming the relief effort led by opposition leader Juan Guaido is part of U.S.-orchestrated “coup” to oust him from power.

Branson told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that the concert he’s throwing on Friday will save lives by raising money for “much-needed medical help” and other aid for crisis-torn Venezuela. Minutes later, Maduro’s government announced what it called a “massive” concert for Friday and Saturday on the Venezuelan side of the border.

Here are some of the details for the dueling concerts:

LIVE AID CONCERT VENEZUELA-STYLE

Although he backs Guaido’s claim to the presidency, Branson told the AP that his concert is not funded by any government and that all the artists are performing for free. The wealthy British adventurer and founder of the Virgin Group said he’s aiming to raise $100 million from donations from viewers worldwide watching the concert on a livestream over the internet.

Branson’s concert plan and even its name — Venezuela Aid Live — immediately evoked comparisons to Irish rock star Bob Geldof’s 1985 Live Aid concert that raised money for famine relief in Ethiopia. It is to be held in Cucuta, a Colombian border city of some 700,000 that has been swollen by hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have fled hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine in their homeland.

“Venezuela sadly has not become the utopia that the current administration of Venezuela or the past administration were hoping for, and that has resulted in a lot of people literally dying from lack of medical help,” Branson told AP in a telephone interview from Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands. “I think it will draw attention to the problem on a global basis.”

BATTLE OF THE BANDS

Branson says up to 300,000 people are expected to attend Friday’s concert, which is free to the public so impoverished Venezuelans can attend. Its lineup includes Mexican band Mana, Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz and Dominican artist Juan Luis Guerra. The organizers confirmed Tuesday that despite reports, Manu Chao would not be performing, and Branson said Peter Gabriel could not attend.

Branson said he hopes Venezuela’s armed forces, who remain loyal to Maduro, will allow the U.S. aid to cross the barricaded Las Tienditas Bridge connecting the two countries and reach Venezuela.

“We want to make it a joyous occasion,” Branson said of the concert. “And we’re hoping that sense prevails and that the military allows the bridge to be open so that much-needed supplies can be sent across.”

“HANDS OFF VENEZUELA”

Maduro’s government will throw what it has dubbed a “Hands Off Venezuela” concert Friday and Saturday on Venezuela’s side of the border. The government has not announced the lineup, but Maduro said that Venezuela will import 300 tons of aid from Russia and his government has promised to send 20,000 boxes of government-subsidized food to the poor in Cucuta, where tons of U.S. aid is sitting earmarked for Venezuelans.

Saturday’s government concert coincides with the date Guaido has called for “caravans” of tens of thousands of Venezuelans to assemble to carry the aid from Colombia into Venezuela.

Calling the government plans “cynical,” Guaido said it would not change the opposition’s plans to bring in the aid. “If it doesn’t enter on the 23rd, it will enter on the 24th, it will enter on the 25th” of February, he said.

POWER STRUGGLE BETWEEN TWO PRESIDENTS

The rival bids for aid and concerts to shore up support are part of a tense bid by Maduro and the opposition to break a nearly monthlong stalemate over power in Venezuela. Guaido declared himself Venezuela’s rightful president on Jan. 23, a claim backed by the U.S. and dozens of other countries that argue Maduro’s re-election was fraudulent because popular opposition candidates were banned from running.

Maduro has held on to the support of the military, the country’s main powerbroker, and relies on powerful allies like Russia and China in a conflict with increasingly Cold War-like dimensions.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
7 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
9 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
10 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
11 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
11 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
A look at rival Branson vs Maduro concerts for Venezuela