The socialist regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro has relocated a rival concert intended to drown out an international humanitarian effort on the Colombian border to the Tienditas bridge connecting the two countries, authorities confirmed Wednesday
This means both concerts will take place in the same location simultaneously.
Maduro recently blocked the Tienditas bridge, which connects Venezuela to the city of Cúcuta, Colombia, to prevent $20 million worth of food and medical aid from the United States from entering the country. The U.S. sent the aid package in response to a request from interim President Juan Guaidó, who has prioritized bringing food into the country to feed the starving population. Maduro neither recognizes Guaidó’s legitimacy nor the existence of a humanitarian crisis in the country and still controls the military, which used boxcars and gasoline tankers to block the bridge.
In a symbolic gesture, the organizers of the “Venezuela Aid Live” concert – largely funded by British billionaire Richard Branson – chose the Colombian side of Tienditas bridge as the site for their event, scheduled for February 22. Now Maduro’s regime has announced a rival, two-day concert in protest of the first concert to take place on the Venezuelan side of the bridge.
Maduro’s event is titled “Hands Off Venezuela” and will allegedly feature “150 artists,” none of whom the socialist regime has named.
Dario Vivas, the Vice President of Mobilization for Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), reportedly confirmed the location of the concert, which had previously been announced as a different bridge, the Simón Bolívar bridge, in the same city. Responding to questions about the proximity of the event to the Branson-led effort, Vivas reportedly said, “what they do on the other side of the border is their problem.”
Venezuelan news outlets have noted that Maduro’s concert has yet to announce any musical acts performing there. One outlet cites officials within the Maduro regime who stated that “150 artists” have signed on to perform, but the regime will not reveal those names until the day of the concert. CNN en Español has at least one guess for who will attend, a relatively obscure singer-songwriter named Marta Gómez, whose song title “Nothing for War” has been billed as an alternative name for the Maduro concert. Another name suggested was the French-Spanish artist Manu Chao, though he has denied claims that he is involved in the project.
The high number of artists allegedly attending the socialist event comes from Maduro’s head of the regime-run Venezuela Artist House, Roberto Messuti, who is in charge of organizing the concert.
As the Venezuela Aid Live concert was announced with a concrete goal – to raise $100 million to buy humanitarian aid for Venezuelans in six days and find a way to get the aid into the country over Maduro’s refusals to accept it – Messuti also attempted to provide a justification for the Maduro concert.
“It is not just about defending a political model of government [socialism], but about defending our sovereignty and facing attacks,” Messuti said this week, without elaboration on what “attacks” Maduro’s regime, which is no longer legitimately in power, faces.
Other Maduro regime officials claimed the concert would raise funds for Cúcuta, despite that city facing no significant issues and its markets booming from Venezuelans crossing the border on a weekly basis for access to food and medicine.
The Branson effort has released several confirmed names for “Venezuela Aid Live,” most high-profile artists throughout Latin America. Interest in participating was apparently so high that organizers had to turn down major artists. Latin Grammy-winning artist Franco de Vita revealed on social media Wednesday that he attempted to participate in the concert, but “there was no room for anyone else.”
Confirmed participants in “Venezuela Aid Live” include Colombian reggaeton stars Maluma and J Balvin, the Mexican rock band Maná, British rock legend Peter Gabriel, and Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra, among others. The number of confirmed acts for the event stands at 32, according to Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional.
Organizers say they expect 250,000 people to attend, about half of the maximum capacity of the Colombian side of the Tienditas bridge. Cúcuta city officials say they have seen “100 percent” maximum capacity reached in the city’s hotels for that weekend, a tourism boom sure to benefit the city.