British billionaire and Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson announced a benefit show last week to raise funds for food and medicine for the citizens of Venezuela. Modeled after Bob Geldof’s Eighties ‘Live Aid’ telethons for Ethiopia, the concert is set to take place this Friday in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta, which sits on the Venezuelan border.
On Tuesday, Roger Waters entered the fray, criticizing the concert and citing concerns over the ramifications of foreign intervention. “The Red Cross and the U.N., unequivocally agree, don’t politicize aid,” the Pink Floyd bassist wrote on Twitter. “Leave the Venezuelan people alone to exercise their legal right to self determination.
“It has nothing to do with humanitarian aid at all,” Waters continued via video. “It has to do with Richard Branson … having bought the U.S. saying, ‘We have decided to take over Venezuela, for whatever our reasons may be.’ Do we really want Venezuela to turn in to another Iraq or Syria or Libya? I don’t and neither do the Venezuelan people.”
A representative for Branson stated that the U.S. government played no role in the organization of the show. “Richard is helping them to raise awareness of the crisis in Venezuela and raise much needed funds through this event,” a spokesperson for Virgin said in a press statement. “This is not a political statement and the U.S. is not involved in any aspect of this.”
Nicolás Maduro, the contested president of Venezuela, has denied there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and has shut down the borders in fear that foreign aid efforts are part of a U.S.-orchestrated coup. In response to Branson’s show, Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez announced that the Maduro government would host two counter-concerts this weekend to compete with Branson’s ‘Aid Live’ show. The shows will be set on the Venezuelan side of the Simón Bolívar International Bridge, which connects the country with Colombia. The lineup has yet to be announced.
In a video titled “Venezuela Needs Our Help,” Venezuelan-American viral-video star Lele Pons issued a plea on Friday, urging fans to contribute $100 million in aid in 60 days. As of Tuesday night, a total of 32 artists have been confirmed. For more information, visit VenezuelaAidLive.com.
Confirmed Lineup for ‘Venezuela Aid Live’ Concert
José Luis Rodríguez
Juan Luis Guerra
Mau y Ricky