The Virgin Founder has announced plans for an event in Cucuta, Colombia to raise money for humanitarian aid in Venezuela.
“Nicolas Maduro’s regime, which is responsible for this crisis, is currently refusing to allow any humanitarian aid into the country,” Branson said in a video promoting the event.
Richard Branson is planning a concert on Venezuela's border to pressure Maduro to let in humanitarian aid https://t.co/f4eAaaaoAh
— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) February 14, 2019
“We must break this impasse or soon, many Venezuelans will be on the verge of starvation or death,” he added.
The concert will aim to raise US$100 million in just 60 days.
The promotional video has since been removed from YouTube but the company has confirmed it was genuine and said that more information will be released shortly.
Branson promised a “wonderful line-up of regional and international artists” for the gig, which will take place on 22 February near the Venezuelan border in Colombia.
— Reuters Venezuela (@ReutersVzla) February 14, 2019
Maduro has resisted attempts to oust him as leader
Venezuela has been in tumult recently after Juan Guaidó swore himself in as President in the wake of widespread protests aimed at removing incumbent leader Nicolás Maduro.
The nation had fallen into poverty and hyperinflation of more than 1,000,000% under Maduro’s leadership. Human rights organisations had also strongly condemned his regime.
The international community has moved to recognised the legitimacy of Guaidó’s rule, with Australia, Brazil and Canada quickly endorsing him and a group of powerful European nations, including France, Spain, Germany, Sweden and Britain following suit. Russia has continued to align itself with Maduro.
Despite the majority of nations being opposed to him staying on as President, Maduro has refused to stand down or to accept supplies of food and medicine sent by foreign nations into the country.
“We are not beggars,” Maduro said on 11 February. “You want to humiliate Venezuela, and I will not let our people be humiliated.”
“The government of Venezuela needs to open the borders,” he said. “Open the borders and let food convoys come into your country, open up your airports and let food flights fly in.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 14, 2019
The US has imposed sanctions on Venezuela
The Trump administration has already moved to impose sanctions on the nation’s powerful oil industry. The US has vowed to keep these sanctions in place until an “expeditious transfer of control to the interim president or a subsequent democratically elected government.”
Maduro has responded by saying the sanctions are illegal and unwanted meddling in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, a major investor in developing nations, has highlighted the difficulty in doing business with Maduro’s Venezuela, saying he would invest in the country “anytime” after the President leaves his post. Sawiris told Bloomberg “starves his own people” and has “ruined the country”.