Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaidó jogged across a footbridge wearing a black T-shirt and escorted by his close aides to reach the stage of the Venezuela Aid Live concert just 300 meters from his country’s heavily militarized border with Colombia.
As he entered Colombian territory defying a travel ban imposed on him by the regime of Nicolás Maduro, the 35-year old opposition leader remarked “This is my bridge” when asked about the risk of having left his country to oversee the humanitarian aid convoys that as of Saturday morning are expected to move 600 tonnes of food and medicines across Tienditas International Bridge, despite Maduro having ordered the military to block all humanitarian aid from entering, and fortify the three-lane barricade of metal containers and discarded fuel trucks.
When news broke that the charismatic leader had literally ran to Colombia to accompany Colombian President Iván Duque, Paraguay’s Mario Abdo Bénitez, Chile’s Sebastian Piñera and Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, the 300,000 spectators listening to a performance of Venezuelan singer and political activist Nacho, broke out in spontaneous cheers that could be heard rippling through the crowd, shouting: “Juan has arrived! Juan has arrived!”
After a brief statement saying that on Saturday they will begin to bring humanitarian aid across the border bridge, Guaidó waved to crowds and continued on to inspect the pallets wrapped with canned foods and medicines, stockpiled on the Colombian side of the border for more than two weeks.
After a day of jubilant and anticipative music celebrations, which saw some of Latin music’s biggest stars show up to support and call for a democratic change of power in Venezuela, tensions are now mounting in the border town in trepidation of Saturday’s showdown between Guaidó, the Venezuelan military, and Maduro.
Speaking to Venezuelan taxi driver Javier Rincón who every day crosses the bridge from Ureña on the Venezuelan side of the border to work in Cúcuta, he told The City Paper: “We need an urgent change, but we are scared about what will happen tomorrow, the vibe in the city is one of nervousness.”
At a press conference at the warehouse, Guaidó thanked Colombia for its brotherly support and decreed that as of tomorrow “all the borders of Venezuela will be open,” and referred to the tragic situation in his country where 300,000 Venezuelans “are sentenced to death” by the regime for having medical conditions that can be easily cured.
“We are not begging. We are resisting a dictatorship,” said Guaidó, who confirmed that a million volunteers have been mobilized to move aid on the Venezuelan side of the border.