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Venezuela govt announces concert to counter Branson’s charity one

Venezuela’s government said Monday it will stage a concert on the Colombian border the same day Richard Branson has said he will hold one just over the frontier to push for aid to be allowed in.

The show will be held February 22-23 as pressure grows on the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing a strong challenge from national assembly speaker Juan Guaido, who is now recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Culture Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the government had received requests from many Venezuelan musicians seeking to take part in “a grand gathering, a big concert for peace and life.”

He did not say who would perform. The concert will be held on the Simon Bolivar bridge which links San Antonio, Venezuela with Cucuta, in Colombia, where aid sent by the US for Venezuela is being held up and stored.

Maduro will not let aid in, saying this would be the first step toward a US invasion. Guaido is demanding he do so.

Another border bridge, called Tienditas, is being blocked by the Venezuelan authorities with cargo containers and a fuel-truck tank.

The minister said the pro-government concert would send a message “to denounce the brutal aggression that our people are being subjected to.” The government routinely complains of US interference.

British billionaire Branson has said he will hold a charity concert February 22 in Cucuta. Big names in Latin and other music have been promised.

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