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Rival anti- and pro-regime concerts became the backdrop for rising tensions in Venezuela on Friday evening, with performances from Luis Fonsi and more
By Anna Grace on 26 Feb 2019
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuela Aid Live went head to head with the Venezuelan government’s Hands Off Venezuela on Friday, embodying the continuing power struggle between president Nicolás Maduro and self-declared, internationally recognised interim president Juan Guaidó.
The Virgin Group founder announced plans earlier this month to host a charity concert to raise funds for humanitarian aid for Venezuelans and increase international awareness of the crisis in the country. The concert was backed by opposition leader and self-declared interim president, Guaidó. In response, Venezuelan president Maduro organised his own, rival concert, in support of his now widely unrecognised government.
The concerts took place on either end of the Tienditas bridge, which connects Venezuela and Colombia. Venezuela Aid Live was held in the Colombian border city of Cúcuta, whereas the government-backed event took place on the Venezuelan side of the bridge.
More than 30 artists played at Branson’s event, which was attended and supported by the presidents of Chile, Colombia and Paraguay. Venezuelan singer Reymar Perdomo opened the concert with ‘Me Fui’, which has become an “angry hymn” for expatriate Venezuelans.
Fellow Venezuelan expat, Danny Ocean, performed ‘Dembow’ and reggaeton hit ‘Me Rehúso’. Other notable performances came from Mexican Paulina Rubio, Colombian Carlos Vives and Argentinian Diego Torres.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) February 23, 2019
Luis Fonsi performed his famous reggaeton song ‘Despacito’, announcing afterwards: “Please, people of Venezuela, know that you are not alone.”
On the other side of the bridge, around 1,000 people attended Maduro’s concert, including members of the national army. Performances came from Venezuelan artists, including singer César “El Magnate” and rock group Yugular.
Branson’s concert was organised to raise money for humanitarian aid for Venezuelans, as the country continues to suffer severe food and medicine shortages. On the day following the concerts, trucks carrying US humanitarian aid attempted to cross the border into Venezuela from Cúcuta.
The Venezuelan National Guard blocked the entry of the aid vans, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at civilians attempting to cross the border. At least three aid trucks near the Colombian border were burned.