Battle of the bands: Venezuela power struggle turns to music

CUCUTA: Tensions along the Colombia-Venezuela border over the entry of aid meant to alleviate widespread food and medicine shortages in the socialist country will be accompanied by music on Friday, as rival concerts kick off on both sides of the boundary.
British billionaire Richard Branson is backing “Venezuela Aid Live” in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where he and 35 artists hope to raise $100 million for food and medical aid.
Some 250,000 people were expected at the free event, which will features performances by Alejandro Sanz, Maluma, Luis Fonsi and Carlos Vives. Donations will be received online and via direct deposits.
Meanwhile, Venezuela’s embattled President Nicolas Maduro, who denies any crisis in his country, is planning two shows near Cucuta on the Tienditas and Simon Bolivar border bridges that connect Venezuela and Colombia.
Saying help is not needed. Political turmoil and economic collapse including hyperinflation have set Venezuela on a downward spiral.
The Tienditas event will take place near a Colombian warehouse storing hundreds of tonnes of international humanitarian aid that the opposition aims to bring into Venezuela on Saturday.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by dozens of countries, left Caracas in a caravan of supporters on Thursday, vowing to ensure personally the aid enters Venezuela.
Guaido, who invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency last month and who denounces Maduro as an usurper, has not provided details on his plans. Some political analysts speculated Venezuelan soldiers may bar the way. Colombia’s migration authority said in a statement on Thursday it will restrict border crossings on Saturday from 5 am until midnight to people participating in the aid handover. — Reuters