‘We are all united in Latin America,’ says Duque as aid to Venezuela draws huge crowds
“Hopefully the Venezuelan military is on the right side of history,” Colombian President Iván Duque said upon his arrival in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta and home to Richard Branson’s Venezuela Aid Live concert. Accompanied by the President of Paraguay Marío Abdo Benitez, Duque spoke of the momentous situation unfolding along the border between Colombia and Venezuela, and stressed that “in a very short time we will have the same meeting of the across the border, but celebrating with the Venezuelan people their freedom and their return to democracy.
Paraguayan Abdo Benitez is one of several South American heads of state in Colombia ahead of the Lima Group summit Monday in Bogotá. “We come to ratify our commitment to solidarity with the Venezuelan people and those whose history will be remembered for their resistance to tyranny,” said Benitez.
With around 300,000 in attendance at a six-day concert featuring a roster of Latin American musicians, Venezuela Aid Live organizer Richard Branson appeared on stage and sent the message to a gathered crowd of Venezuelans and locals. Colombians: “If we can take people to space, why is it so difficult to lift our brothers out of poverty? Remarked the founder of Virgin Group. “This concert is about the humanitarian aid we need so badly. It’s about making a difference in the lives of millions of people who have suffered for too long, ”added Branson.
The maverick entrepreneur was expected in California’s Mojave Desert on Friday to witness the test flight of a Virgin Galactic rocket plane that soared to the edge of space, but instead spent the day in Cúcuta. The relief effort of humanitarian aid begins Saturday, February 23, when trucks filled with 700 tons of food and medicine head for a border heavily barricaded by the Venezuelan army.
“With each passing day the misery only gets worse, inflation is out of control, infrastructure has collapsed, the richest country in Latin America is now the poorest, this is unacceptable,” Branson said. from a stage that supports the Tienditas Bridge, and the main land passage that has never been opened.
As millions of people tune in to watch the musicians on stage and an audience adorned with Venezuelan and Colombian flags, Duque praised that “the eyes of the world are on Cúcutá […] and the beginning of an irreversible process of restoring democracy in Venezuela.
“This is a historic weekend for Latin America because we are all united for the freedom of Venezuela,” said Duque before the arrival of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in a military transport plane filled with donations from the Chilean people .
As the groups play, Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guaidó heads to the Tienditas Bridge with a convoy of supporters to order with his presidential term any incoming US aid on Saturday. The decision of a leader who has the support of the Lima Group, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, among others, is seen by Russia as a “provocation” intended to overthrow Nicolas Maduro.
At a Kremlin press conference, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters that Saturday was a critical date for the Maduro government and that the US aid convoy could end with violence.