Branson and Maduro Square Off for the Ultimate Battle of the Bands

February 19, 2019, 12:49 PM UTC

It’s shaping up to be a battle of the bands like no other.

Last week, Richard Branson announced he would stage a Live Aid-style concert on the Colombian side of the Venezuelan border, near a bridge in Cúcuta that embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has blockaded to prevent aid donations from getting through.

Now, Maduro has announced a rival concert, on the Venezuelan side of a different bridge in Cúcuta that people have been using to flee to reach Colombia, away from his own regime.

Branson said he hoped the concert would draw global attention to the dire situation in Venezuela, where there are severe shortages of food and medicine. He also wants to raise $100 million in aid for the country.

In the process, the British billionaire made himself a powerful ally for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president last month following public protests over the legitimacy of Maduro’s re-election.

The Virgin Galactic founder told The Associated Press that the inspiration to host a concert was based on his involvement with Live Aid and with ‘The Elders’, a group of veteran leaders who aim to support peace and human rights around the world. As The Washington Post points out, however, it’s not clear how any funds raised would help Venezuelans, at least until the political stalemate between Maduro and Guaidó ends.