Venezuela ‘Live Aid’ Concert Blocked As Tensions Rise On Colombia Border

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The US government has sent 200 metric tons of relief supplies to the Colombian border to be delivered to the Venezuelan people, but Maduro won't let them have it.

It comes amid an increasingly unpredictable and unruly fight for power in the oil-rich South American nation.

Meanwhile, President Nicolas Maduro announced Saturday he was severing diplomatic ties with Venezuela's neighbor Colombia after it backed his rival Juan Guaido in his attempts to bring humanitarian aid into the country.

Even as the 35-year-old lawmaker has won the backing of more than 50 governments around the world, he's so far been unable to cause a major rift inside the military - the socialist leader's last-remaining plank of support in a country ravaged by hyperinflation and widespread shortages.

Guaido, who met with Colombian President Ivan Duque in Cucuta on Friday and Saturday, called on supporters to mobilize and force border officials to allow the aid in his country.

But nearly as soon as the aid convoy departed, the limitations of Guaido's high-stakes gamble became clear.

Clockwise from top left; Venezuelan singer "Chyno" performs during "Venezuela Aid Live" concert; thousands attend the "Venezuela Aid Live" concert at Tienditas International Bridge in Cucuta, Colombia; People with Venezuelan flags chant anti-government slogans on their way to the concert in Urena, Venezuela; Richard Branson organized the Venezuela Aid Live concert.

"We made a blockade, without any weapon but our traditional bows and arrows", he said.

"The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, and freedom has the momentum".

"My patience has run out", Maduro said, speaking at a massive rally of red-shirted supporters in Caracas and giving Colombian diplomats 24 hours to leave the country.




Clashes started at dawn in the Venezuelan border town of Urena, when residents began removing yellow metal barricades and barbed wire blocking the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge.

Pictures also show protesters throwing rocks at soldiers and riot police in border areas.

We want to work: "the people attempted to force their way through", said Viviana Meza, 29, who works in a Cucuta restaurant.

"It won't be for me", she said. "But still, these soldiers are scary". Medics near the bridge were treating dozens of people from tear gas inhalation and the stampede that retreated when canisters were fired.

The Venezuelan government ordered the closure three border crossings "due to the serious and illegal threats by the government of Colombia against peace and the sovereignty of Venezuela", Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez said Friday. That event was held on the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, which 33,000 people now use to enter Colombia each day.

"I think one of the government's aims is to confuse the whole thing, possibly to create some kind of chaos that makes the opposition look bad", The Associated Press quoted Phil Gunson, a senior analyst with the Crisis Group based in Caracas. He called on his comrades to join him: "There is a lot of discontent inside the forces, but also lots of fear".

Almost 200,000 people attended a festive benefit concert in Cucuta on Friday featuring Latin pop stars, including Luis Fonsi of "Despacito" fame, many of whom called on Maduro to step down. Thirty-five National Guard troops are being held by the indigenous community in protest, the mayor of the broader Gran Sabana municipality said.

"They aren't deserters", Guaido said. "Mr Trump? Or the Venezuelans?" "Looking ahead for tomorrow the secretary-general strongly appeals for violence to be avoided".

The region had seen two deaths Friday when indigenous citizens apparently supporting the entry of the "aid" confronted a military convoy en route to the border, and there were unconfirmed reports of four more deaths in the sector Saturday.

Venezuelan security forces take position while clashing with demonstrators in Urena, Venezuela, on February 23, 2019.

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