Venezuela Aid Live Concert Pushes For Humanitarian Aid Across Colombia

Feb 22, 2019

Juanes. Luis Fonsi. Maluma. 

They’re some of the artists invited to perform at Friday's Venezuela Aid Live concert in Cúcuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela. The show aims to benefit the effort to move tons of humanitarian aid into Venezuela on Saturday.

President Nicolas Maduro is responding with his own concert and said he’s planning to send aid to the people in Colombia.

Saturday is potentially a big showdown – it’s the day Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó says humanitarian aid will enter his country, which is suffering the world’s worst economic collapse.

The South Florida Roundup looked into this battle of the bands in Cúcuta.  Host Tom Hudson was joined by WLRN’s Americas correspondent Tim Padgett, Jim Wyss, The Miami Herald’s Andes correspondent, and Nora Gámez Torres, a reporter with El Nuevo Herald.

Here’s an excerpt of that conversation:

WLRN: How is the American involvement being characterized there in the region in Colombia? What is your sense about how it's being characterized inside Venezuela? 

JIM WYSS: In Venezuela, it's very clear. They're presenting this as a U.S.-backed effort to push questionable aid into Venezuela and suggesting that it may be part of this larger coup-plot against Maduro. And the rest of the region, I think it's definitely being seen as a U.S.-led effort. I mean USAID has as already in the process of delivering $20 million worth of aid to Cúcuta. And there's pledges for much more. That being said, Brazil and Chile are getting into the act. And of course Colombia is providing a lot of the logistical support. 

Meanwhile, there has been an outbreak of skirmishes, some deadly violence in fact on Friday, on the border between Venezuela and Brazil. What do we know? 

TIM PADGETT: One of the things that's gotten lost in all of this showdown hype is the fact that we were also trying to get aid into other parts of the border of Venezuela. Brazil, but also [the] maritime border with Curacao and Aruba, etc. I think it took a lot of people by surprise this morning when we heard that there are at least two dead in a clash with Venezuelan military there. Maduro had ordered that the border with Brazil be closed as well. An indigenous community down there on the border with Brazil was trying to get the border back open not only because of the aid but because they depend so heavily economically on having the traffic open at that border point. They had a clash with the Venezuelan military this morning, as I said, at least two dead and more than a dozen injured. That is not looking good for Maduro. 

What are the options American politicians are talking about privately as we move toward what is a standoff and toward some kind of conclusion? Perhaps about this humanitarian standoff on Saturday. 

NORA GÁMEZ TORRES: Privately, they're just waiting and seeing what happens today and tomorrow. Apparently, there's no eagerness in any sort of military intervention. I asked several officials and politicians. They really don't want to talk about intervention right now. They're really hoping that this combined push of Guaidó, this caravan to get the aid, the concert that's happening today at the border, and the whole economic pressure via sanctions that finally this comes through tomorrow, and the U.S. is not forced or inclined to have a plan B. That said there's a lot of uncertainty even within the U.S. government. I don't think anyone is sure what comes next. 

You can watch the Venezuela Live Aid concert here: