(Reuters) – Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson on Wednesday said he hopes a concert in Colombia aimed at raising money for crisis-wracked Venezuela will encourage the country’s soldiers to defy orders from President Nicolas Maduro and let humanitarian aid cross the border.
Some 250,000 people are expected at Friday’s concert in the Colombian border town of Cucuta that organizers say will raise about $100 million to buy food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering widespread shortages.
Branson - Show - Venezuela - Aid - Live
Branson, who is backing the show, dubbed “Venezuela Aid Live,” told Reuters he expects money to flow in from many countries if the Tienditas Bridge crossing from Colombia to Venezuela can be opened.
“I think that if we can persuade the soldiers to open the bridge, that’s the ideal outcome from this concert,” he said in an interview via satellite link from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. “That will then mean that people who are dying from cancer because they’re not getting the right pills, or other illnesses, they will be able to get help medical help.”
United - States - Scores - Countries - Maduro
The United States and scores of other countries have openly backed Maduro’s rival, opposition leader and congress chief Juan Guaido, who last month invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself interim president.
The opposition plans to send aid into Venezuela on Saturday from collection points in neighboring countries including Colombia via sea and land, despite Maduro’s refusal to let it in, setting up a possible clash with authorities.
Maduro - Pressure - Re-election - Year - Crisis
Maduro, who is facing growing international pressure to step down after his disputed re-election last year, denies there is a humanitarian crisis and has blocked the bridge leading from Colombia to prevent aid getting through.
The presidents of Colombia and Chile have publicly...
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