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Cucuta finalizes preparations to host 250,000 people at Venezuela Aid Live

A policeman on duty at La Tienditas border bridge, in Cucuta, Colombia, 21 February 2019 where dozens of international artists will perform tomorrow in the Venezuela Aid Live, at one of the three border checkpoints between Colombia and Venezuela where tonnes of humanitarian aid for Venezuela remain. EPA-EFE/ERNESTO GUZMAN JR

A policeman on duty at La Tienditas border bridge, in Cucuta, Colombia, 21 February 2019 where dozens of international artists will perform tomorrow in the Venezuela Aid Live, at one of the three border checkpoints between Colombia and Venezuela where tonnes of humanitarian aid for Venezuela remain. EPA-EFE/ERNESTO GUZMAN JR

EFE

With the stage practically built, 100 percent hotel occupancy and most of the artists already there, the Colombian city of Cucuta is ready to receive more than 250,000 people on Friday for the “Venezuela Aid Live” concert, an event that seeks to raise funds for essential humanitarian aid for Venezuela.

A total of 32 artists from Argentina, Colombia, Spain, the US, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Sweden, and Venezuela will participate in the concert, which aims to raise up to $100 million in the next 60 days.

At the Tienditas bridge, one of the three border crossings between Cucuta and Venezuela, where 600 tons of humanitarian aid will be delivered to that country on Saturday, a 16-meter wide, 12m deep and 3.5m high stage was installed in approximately 58 hours.

Jorge Moreno from the company JMoreno Asociados, one of the companies working on the assembly of the stage, told EFE that this type of platforms is normally installed in four or five days.

“It is not every day that a stage is set up on a bridge that is an international border, but conditions so far have been normal,” said Moreno.

In this initiative, started by billionaire Richard Branson, artists such as Colombian Juanes and Carlos Vives, Venezuelan Ricardo Montaner, Dominican Juan Luis Guerra and Spaniards Miguel Bose and Alejandro Sanz will participate. The last two also played 11 years ago at the “Peace Without Borders” event.

That concert was held on Mar. 16, 2008 on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, at the border crossing located between Cucuta and San Antonio del Tachira, to celebrate the brotherhood of both countries and to fight for peace in the coffee-growing nation.

“Venezuela Aid Live” will also feature Swedish DJ Alesso, Americans Jencarlos Canela and Rudy Mancuso, Argentine Diego Torres, Mexicans Mana, Paulina Rubio and Reik, and Puerto Rican Luis Fonsi.

For Judey Marquez, a Venezuelan woman who came from the state of Tachira to enjoy the concert and help bring humanitarian aid to her country, it is important that the artists bring their support.

“Total gratitude to all the artists who joined this initiative and to those who can stay for the most important day, which is the 23rd, to accompany the delivery of the humanitarian aid,” she told Efe.

The expectations for the concert are high and that is why on Thursday Cucuta has 100 percent hotel occupancy, all 14 rural accommodations, 34 aparthotels, 5 resorts, 18 hostels, 249 hotels, two shelters and 60 tourist homes are fully booked, according to figures from the City Hall.

Therefore, Friday was declared a holiday and the mayor decreed that no alcohol will be sold from 6am local time (1100 GMT) on Saturday until 6pm (2300 GMT) on the same day.

In addition, the Colombian government will restrict the passage of people through the four international bridges that connect the country with Venezuela to facilitate the entry of aid on Saturday.

Colombian President Ivan Duque welcomed the Aid Live initiative, which he considers “should generate great admiration of the world.”

“I want to congratulate all citizens, organizers and artists who tomorrow will attend and perform a concert on Colombian territory to mobilize resources so that humanitarian aid can reach Venezuela,” Duque said after receiving credentials from Humberto Calderon Berti, the ambassador in Colombia appointed by Venezuela’s interim president, Juan Guaido.

Colombia’s foreign minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that “Venezuela Aid Live” is organized by private entrepreneurs and a group of artists, and “all the national government has done is provide logistical support.”

While preparations continue, Venezuelan deputies in Colombia confirmed that humanitarian aid for Venezuela will enter that country from Feb. 23 through different border crossings with Cucuta.

The operation will begin at 9am local time (1400 GMT) and will have a logistician on both the Venezuelan and Colombian sides.


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