Prayers, holy water as Venezuelans push Curacao aid shipment

"If there is any type of violence, or if there is any type of negative reaction from the hierarchy of the Venezuela armed forces, there may also be measures that are announced by the vice president and other countries in regards to closing even further the global financial circle", the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. More than 30 artists participated in the event, including Colombians Carlos Vives, Juanes and reggaetón singer Maluma, Swedish DJ Alesso, Mexican rock band Mana, and singer and songwriter Alejandro Sanz. A concert known as Paz Sin Fronteras - Peace Without Borders - was held in 2008 after a diplomatic flare-up that drew Venezuelan troops to the Colombia border.

Branson told the thousands who had gathered under the beating sun to enjoy music and call for political change, and that any alleged political affiliations were a necessary price for ending suffering.

Branson has stressed that he intends the concert to be an act of solidarity.

Venezuela ordered the temporary closure of the country's border with Colombia late Friday.

Dozens of mainly Latin American artists agreed to perform at the free concert that is taking place amid mounting worldwide pressure on leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to resign. Tensions are growing in the humid border town of Cúcuta as confrontation looks increasingly likely.

The news comes as Mr Maduro ordered troops to block aid coming into the nation despite widespread shortages of food and medicine, and warned the United States and its allies were using "the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid" to try to "destroy the independence and sovereignty of the country". A fourth one, the Tienditas bridge in Cucuta, has been blocked by containers and other obstacles. "The Venezuelan military should protect civilians, not shoot them".

Thousands of people had traveled to the bridges to form human chains and to start passing aid packages to the other side of the border, the German DPA news agency reported.

The concert also aims to pressure the Venezuelan government into accepting shipments of humanitarian aid donated by the U.S. The aid now sits in a warehouse on the Colombian border after the government of Venezuela refused its entry into the country.

Brazilian soldiers organize humanitarian aid for Venezuela
AFP 2018 Nelson Almeida Brazil Urges Int’l Community to Join in'Liberation Effort of Venezuela- Reports Dimitris Pantoulas

Maduro's opponents want to swing the momentum against him in the hope that the military will drop its support for him.

Four trucks loaded with humanitarian aid and carrying dozens of volunteers tried to force their way across the Venezuelan border from Colombia on Saturday, TV images showed.

Since Wednesday, Maduro troops have been preventing the entry of US humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Brazil and other neighboring countries friendly to the United States.

United Nations figures show that some 2.7 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015 amid the crisis, and some 5,000 Venezuelans emigrate from their country each day. Over three million Venezuelans have fled the crisis since it began, many residing in Colombia where the February 22 concert was held.

Six hundred tons of aid, largely donated by the USA, has been sitting in a storage facility at what is widely known as the Tienditas International Bridge for two weeks.

Venezuelans like Rosa Mora, 40, said they were still debating whether to heed the opposition's call for a mass mobilization at three bridges in the Cucuta area Saturday, fearful that they might be met with resistance by the military.

"Now there is no fear left, they can say they can kill us, but they are already killing us in Venezuela", said Josué Briceny, 21, who was preparing to get a rough night's rest at a local camp where some concert attendees will stay before attempting to head back across the border with the aid the following morning.

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  • Sonia Alvarado