On Friday, British billionaire Richard Branson announced that he was sponsoring a concert to raise funds for the ongoing Venezuelan humanitarian relief effort. In a video posted on his Twitter account, Branson said that he hoped to raise $100 million, and that the concert would take place in Cucuta on February 22, the day before the aid warehoused there is scheduled to be sent to Venezuela.
Below, Branson’s announcement:
Today, Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez announced that the Maduro regime will host its own concert to take place on the same day a short distance from Venezuela Aid Live, the purpose of which will be to deliver humanitarian aid to the children of Cucuta.
The concert will take place on February 22 and 23, just about six kilometers from the Tienditas International Bridge, on which the international aid is supposed to start flowing into Venezuela on Saturday.
Rodriguez said that during the concert, 20,000 food boxes will be made available for residents of Cucuta to take home, and that Venezuelan doctors will be on hand to provide medical services to anyone who needs them.
Below, a clip of Rodriguez making the announcement:
Rodriguez: … to take our brothers and sisters in Cucuta more than 20,000 CLAP [subsidized food distribution network] boxes to help with the extremely difficult situation lived by thousands of children there in Cucuta.
On top of the 20,000 CLAP boxes that we’re going to bring on Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23, we’re also going to bring pediatricians, surgeons, odontologists to give free medical attention–something that’s totally unthinkable in Colombia right now–so that our pediatricians can see the children, so that our surgeons can look at real cases that might be resolved on the spot, so that doctors… can help the people of Cucuta completely free, as a sign of solidarity from the people of Venezuela to the Colombian people.
The Maduro regime has long used Colombia as an scapegoat for problems in Venezuela. Part of this practice involves highlighting and exaggerating any problems that Colombia might have.
Interim president Juan Guaido reacted to Rodriguez’s announcement by calling it “cynical” and suggested that it is yet more evidence that the regime is “disconnected from reality”. Guaido said:
You’d have to be really disconnected from reality to make fun in that way of the needs of the Venezuelan people. You’d have to be very cynical for the response to the [aid effort] to be to take food to Cucuta and host a concert in Venezuela.
Guaido also said that the regime’s announcement does not change the opposition’s plans.
Meganalisis: 85.4% Want Maduro, Chavismo Out
The results of a new survey by the Meganalisis polling firm show that nearly all of the country wants Maduro and chavismo out of power, ideally today.
Some highlights from the survey:
- What would you like to happen in Venezuela today? “That Maduro and chavismo leave power” (85.4%); “That the coup d’etat against Maduro come to an end” (8.7%)
- Do you think that the army will show its back to Maduro on February 23 and allow the humanitarian aid to cross the border? “No” (89.1%); “Yes” (4.6%)
- As a Venezuelan, who do you recognize as the legitimate president of Venezuela after January 23: Nicolas Maduro, or Juan Guaido? “Guaido” (78.9%), “Maduro” (4.2%)
The survey also included a question the poor wording of which likely influenced its results. The question asked:
Section 11 of Article 187 of our constitution says ‘The National Assembly has the power to authorize the use of Venezuelan military missions abroad’. Do you think that the National Assembly should authorize foreign military missions in the country?
However, the question appears to be based on a flawed reading of Article 187(11). The article gives the National Assembly the authority to deploy the Venezuelan army abroad, yet the question is asking if the National Assembly should approve foreign military operations in Venezuela, which it cannot do. (EDIT: This is incorrect. Article 187(11) does give the National Assembly the power to authorize foreign military missions in Venezuela).
85% of respondents answered “yes” to that question.
The survey sampled 1,250 people, and is accurate within 3.1% with a confidence level of 97%.
Trump Talks Venezuela in Miami
United States President Donald Trump spoke at a rally in Miami today, and spoke at length on the Venezuelan crisis.
Calling Maduro “a Cuban puppet”, Trump said that the Venezuelan military “must not follow Maduro’s orders” to stop humanitarian aid from entering the country. He also said:
We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open.
Trump also made a personal appeal to Maduro and other high-ranking regime officials, saying that U.S. authorities know “who they are and we know where they keep the billions of dollars they have stolen”, and that these regime officials are “risking their future” by refusing to leave power.
At one point in his speech, Maduro brought Oscar Perez’s mother onto the stage:
Oscar Perez took the national spotlight in June 2017 when he stole a police helicopter and flew it around Caracas in what was a larger attempt at sparking a general insurrection against Maduro.
Perez was killed in a police operation on January 18 of last year along with six of his companions.
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