Concert diplomacy, concurrent humanitarian aid operations and the uncertain future of Venezuela
In what appears to be an increasingly futile effort, Venezuela’s armed forces are desperately trying to hinder access of foreign humanitarian aid to the country. So far, more than 50 states have officially recognised the opposition leader and self-proclaimed President of Venezuela, Juan Guaido. Neighbouring states have mobilised in recent days and set up temporary logistics centres where humanitarian aid is gathered and prepared to be dispatched in Venezuela.
President Nicolas Maduro has progressively ceased access to border posts towards Brazil and Colombia in an ultimate effort to stop opposition from delivering humanitarian assistance within Venezuela’s territory. In the barricades, frequent incidents of violence are recorded between Venezuelan citizens and National Guard troops. At least two people lost their lives on Saturday in violent skirmishes on the Brazilian-Venezuelan border. There are also indications that four soldiers and a general disavowed on Saturday President Maduro’s rule and joined the other side of the Venezuelan border. The government of President Maduro has repeatedly framed incoming humanitarian aid as an indirect type of invasion supported by the Western world.
The opposition leader and self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido ignored Venezuelan court restrictions and crossed the borders to adjacent Colombian city of Cucuta. Cucuta is one of the most important logistics points where humanitarian aid is prepared to be dispatched in Venezuela. In Cucuta, the British owner of Virgin Group Richard Branson held a Live Aid concert on Friday to collect humanitarian aid and persuade barricaded forces to open up the so-called Unity Bridge, the border crossing point that connects Colombia with Venezuela. Simultaneously, concert diplomacy was also exerted by President Maduro, who held a concurrent concert in Caracas entitled Hands Off Venezuela. The British billionaire’s concert was attended by Juan Guaido, and the Presidents of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay.
Latest reports indicate that the first truck with humanitarian aid managed to cross Venezuela’s boundaries from a Brazilian checkpoint on Saturday afternoon.