Venezuela has had a series of dramatic events over the last few weeks. The conflict between Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guaido over the country’s leadership has resulted in demonstrations, dueling aid packages from countries supporting the respective men, foreign aid being blocked from entry to the country and on Thursday a declaration of intent by Maduro to close the border with Brazil.
Now it is also inspiring a concert.
British billionaire Richard Branson has funded and arranged a benefit concert for Venezuela, designed to show solidarity with the Venezuelan people who support Guaido. It is named “Venezuela Aid Live” and will be held today on the Columbian side of their border with Venezuela.
The event will host 32 acts by artists who are popular throughout South America and in some cases, the world. More artists have volunteered, only to be respectfully declined due to space considerations. All funds raised are to be designated toward Venezuelan aid.
This will, in theory, demonstrate that Guaido has the influence to bring aid money to the country without going through nations who are seen as hostile to Venezuela.
Venezuelan authorities, under the direction of Maduro, have announced a counter-event on both Friday and Saturday, on the Venezuelan side of another Columbian border bridge. It has yet to provide a definitive list of artists who will be performing.
Pink Floyd songwriter Roger Waters condemned the pro-Guaido event, claiming it was a ploy for Branson to get attention and support for a declared invasion by the United States.
While America has made its support of Guaido and its dislike of Maduro perfectly clear, it has not in any way suggested a desire for an invasion. As the event will allow average people in South America to contribute to the well-being of their neighbors, it is unclear how the aid is to be “politicized” beyond being organized on behalf of one of two political movements in the country – a condition which would be true of any other aid package. The removal of state actors from the aid process is designed to minimize the political side of the equation.
Some of the musicians who are playing the event have responded in kind to Waters’ post. As most of them speak Spanish and many of them are local to the area, their Twitter responses have been in Spanish as well. They have emulated Waters’ action of speaking directly to the camera – and their fans.
In a further response to the concert, Nicolas Maduro is reportedly considering closing the border to Columbia in addition to the Brazilian border.