Running battles on Venezuela border over aid after Branson concert as soldiers quit posts

Rival concerts became the backdrop of the showdown between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido on Friday as the opposition prepared to bring aid across the Venezuela-Colombia border - a move Maduro has vowed to block.

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson hosted a Venezuelan Aid Live concert on the Tienditas International bridge, which connects Venezuela and Colombia, while Maduro's government kicked off a three-day festival on the other side of the border.

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Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, during the "Venezuela Aid Live" concert, organized to raise money for the Venezuelan relief effort at the head of the Tienditas International Bridge in Cucuta, Colombia, on February 22, 2019. Venezuela's political tug-of-war morphs into a battle of the bands on Friday, with dueling government and opposition pop concerts ahead of a weekend showdown over the entry of badly needed food and medical aid. (Photo by Elyxandro Cegarra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
CUCUTA, COLOMBIA - FEBRUARY 22, 2019: Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin brand, during the 'Venezuela Aid Live' in Cucuta, Colombia, on February 22, 2019. The concert takes place at the Las Tienditas bridge that links Colombia and Venezuela. (Photo by Lokman Ilhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A demonstrator kicks a burning tire during clashes with the police in Urena, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela's National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia on Saturday, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, during the "Venezuela Aid Live" concert, organized to raise money for the Venezuelan relief effort at the head of the Tienditas International Bridge in Cucuta, Colombia, on February 22, 2019. Venezuela's political tug-of-war morphs into a battle of the bands on Friday, with dueling government and opposition pop concerts ahead of a weekend showdown over the entry of badly needed food and medical aid. (Photo by Elyxandro Cegarra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Venezuelan singer Kasino sings along with the head of Venezuela's Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello (R), during a three-day pro-regime concert called by Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to rival a charity music festival organized by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, on the Venezuelan side of the Tienditas International Bridge in Las Tienditas, near Ureña, on the border with Colombia, on February 22, 2019. (Photo by Juan BARRETO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
CUCUTA, COLOMBIA - FEBRUARY 22: Chino and Nacho venezuelan singers perform during the 'Venezuela Aid Live' at Unity Bridge on February 22, 2019 in Cucuta, Colombia. Richard Branson organized the concert to raise awareness of the crisis in Venezuela, receive donations for sustainable social investment in the country and to reopen the Venezuelan borders to let the humanitarian aid in. (Photo by Manuel Hernandez/Vizzor Image/Getty Images)
CUCUTA, COLOMBIA - FEBRUARY 22: Thousands of people attend the 'Venezuela Aid Live' at Unity Bridge on February 22, 2019 in Cucuta, Colombia. Richard Branson organized the concert to raise awareness of the crisis in Venezuela, receive donations for sustainable social investment in the country and to reopen the Venezuelan borders to let the humanitarian aid in. (Photo by Manuel Hernandez/Vizzor Image/Getty Images)
CUCUTA, COLOMBIA - FEBRUARY 22: Thousands of people attend the 'Venezuela Aid Live' at Unity Bridge on February 22, 2019 in Cucuta, Colombia. Richard Branson organized the concert to raise awareness of the crisis in Venezuela, receive donations for sustainable social investment in the country and to reopen the Venezuelan borders to let the humanitarian aid in. (Photo by Manuel Hernandez/Vizzor Image/Getty Images)
This aerial view taken from the Colombian side of Tienditas International Bridge at the border between Colombia and Venzuela, on February 22, 2019 shows the stage of 'Venezuela Aid Live' concert, organized by British billionaire Richard Branson to raise money for the Venezuelan relief effort. On the backgroung Venezuelan side where a goverment-sponsored concert is scheduled to take place later today. - Venezuela's political tug-of-war morphs into a battle of the bands on Friday, with dueling government and opposition pop concerts ahead of a weekend showdown over the entry of badly needed food and medical aid. (Photo by Edinson ESTUPINAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read EDINSON ESTUPINAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bolivarian National Guard troops man a barricade blocking access to the Francisco De Paula Santander international bridge in Urena, Venezuela, on the border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela's National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia on Saturday, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A demonstrator gets caught in a strand of barbed wire during clashes with the Bolivarian National Guard in Urena, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela's National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia on Saturday, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Demonstrators move a torched bus during clashes with the Bolivarian National Guard in Urena, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela's National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia on Saturday, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Venezuelan writer Leonardo Padron speaks to the crowd gathered at the Angel of Independence during a protest in Mexico City, Saturday Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuelans marched down the streets of Mexico City to protest over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into Venezuela over objections from President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Anthony Vazquez)
A demonstrator, left, falls after getting caught in a strand of barbed wire during clashes with the Bolivarian National Guard in Urena, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela's National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia on Saturday, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Manifestantes empujan un camión que fue incendiado durante enfrentamientos con la Guardia Nacional Bolivariana en Ureña, Venezuela, cerca de la frontera con Colombia, el sábado 23 de febrero de 2019. (AP Foto/Rodrigo Abd)
Demonstrators throw stones after a truck with humanitarian aid was set on fire at the Francisco de Paula Santander international bridge Bridge linking Cucuta, Colombia, and Urena, Venezuela, during an attempt to cross over the border into Venezuela, on February 23, 2019. - US-donated humanitarian aid was 'on its way' to Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Gauido announced Saturday as he launched a distribution operation with the presidents of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay. (Photo by RAUL ARBOLEDA / AFP) (Photo credit should read RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)
A demonstrator gestures in front of Venezuelan national policemen standing guard at the Simon Bolivar international bridge, in Cucuta, Colombia after President Nicolas Maduro's government ordered to temporary close down the border with Colombia on February 23, 2019. - Venezuela braced for a showdown between the military and regime opponents at the Colombian border on Saturday, when self-declared acting president Juan Guaido has vowed humanitarian aid would enter his country despite a blockade. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuelan national policemen stand guard at the Simon Bolivar international bridge, in Cucuta, Colombia after President Nicolas Maduro's government ordered to temporary close down the border with Colombia on February 23, 2019. - Venezuela braced for a showdown between the military and regime opponents at the Colombian border on Saturday, when self-declared acting president Juan Guaido has vowed humanitarian aid would enter his country despite a blockade. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images)
People try to salvage humaitarian aid after the truck carrying it was set ablaze on the Francisco de Paula Santander International Brige between Cucuta in Colombia and Ureña in Venezuela, on February 23, 2019. - A truck loaded with humanitarian aid was set ablaze on Saturday on the Colombia-Venezuela border, an opposition deputy told reporters amid rioting on the Santander bridge crossing. (Photo by Schneyder Mendoza / AFP) (Photo credit should read SCHNEYDER MENDOZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Juan Guaid� seen arriving and being welcomed at the protest. Interim President Juan Guaid�, was at a protest where private and public workers of the transport sector, decided to support him instead of Nicolas Maduro, Caracas. (Photo by Roman Camacho / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
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Branson said he hopes to raise more than $100m to provide food and medicine for Venezuelans.

"I think that if we can persuade the soldiers to open the bridge, that's the ideal outcome from this concert," Branson told the Reuters news agency ahead of Friday's concert.

"That will then mean that people who are dying from cancer because they're not getting the right pills, or other illnesses, they will be able to get help medical help," he added.

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