Sir Richard Branson’s been making headlines this week for organising a Live Aid concert for the people of Venezuela. He’s hoping the benefit concert will not only raise awareness about the current crisis in the country but also raise funds for Venezuelans who have no food or medical help…and maybe even reopen the borders so humanitarian aid can get through:
I mean, it all sounds bloody good, right? But not everyone is happy about it. Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters thinks Sir Richard should “back off” and leave it to the Venezuelan people to decide what help they need:
The Red Cross and the UN, unequivocally agree, don’t politicize aid. Leave the Venezuelan people alone to exercise their legal right to self determination. pic.twitter.com/I0yS3u75b6
— Roger Waters (@rogerwaters) February 18, 2019
Waters also controversially adds that his own friends in Caracas say there is “no civil war, no mayhem, no murder, no apparent dictatorship, no suppression of the press” – quite a different account to the one we heard from UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie just a few months earlier. She met with Venezuelans who’d fled to Peru and could only describe their situation as desperate:
“I heard stories of people dying because of lack of medical care and medicine: cancer patients whose chemotherapy was abruptly stopped, diabetes sufferers without access to insulin, children without basic antibiotics, people starving and tragic accounts of violence and persecution.” (Read more HERE.)
But let’s get back to the benefit concert. It’s still going ahead (in just a few hours, in fact) and Ricky Martin is showing his support on social media while “Despacito” singer Luis Fonsi has agreed to perform at the concert for free. The show will also feature a host of famous South American stars including Venezuelan-American singer Lele Pons.
In his post, Ricky says that “Venezuela Live Aid is an opportunity for everyone to donate and help our Venezuelan brothers and sisters.”
The concert is taking place in Colombia, in the town of Cucuta which is near a bridge that connects it to Venezuela. Interestingly, President Nicolás Maduro has blocked off this bridge so no US aid can get through. He believes the aid is all part of a larger plot by the US government to invade Venezuela.)
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Sir Richard’s ultimate goal is to raise US$100 million dollars over two months through website donations. He promises that every single cent will go to “Venezuelans in need” giving them food and medical assistance – how that will happen exactly is a tricky question. There’s already tonnes of humanitarian aid from the US sitting at the Venezuelan border which President Maduro won’t accept.
It’s pretty clear Sir Richard’s intentions here are good. He wants to help the people of Venezuela and if anything, he’s definitely drawn international attention to their situation. Will this actually work though? It’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds…