BOGOTA – Despite criticism from broad sectors of the country, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera traveled to Colombia Friday to participate in the controversial delivery of ”humanitarian aid” to Venezuela in Cucuta.
The President’s plane left Santiago de Chile shortly before 08:00 local time, and took a brief stopover in Iquique before flying directly to Colombia, where he arrived this afternoon.
El Pdte @sebastianpinera llegó este viernes a #Cúcuta #Colombia para entregar en persona la #ayudahumanitaria para el pueblo de #Venezuela. “Solidarizamos con la lucha del pueblo venezolano por recuperar su democracia en forma pacífica”. Más en: https://t.co/tf5JBXW18R pic.twitter.com/Vr3t3hI1Fh
— Prensa Presidencia de Chile (@presidencia_cl) February 22, 2019
Crowds have gathered for the Venezuela Aid Live Concert, where more than 30 artists will be performing to benefit the Venezuelan people. Organizers said the event, taking place on the Colombian side of the border bridge Tienditas in the town of Ccuta, would attract an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people.
The concert, which is being organized by British billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, comes as Nicolas Maduro refused to accept any kind of aid from different countries including the United States.
Venezuela’s internationally-recognized interim President Juan Guaidó also joined hundreds of thousands of people on this far-flung border town on Friday to demand that Nicolás Maduro allow humanitarian aid into the country.
Colombia’s immigration department on Friday released a video showing Venezuelan troops welding containers and a tanker truck to the Tienditas international bridge — solidifying an already formidable obstacle intended to block aid delivery. And security forces opened fire on opposition protesters along the border with Brazil, leaving at least one dead.
The concert is a prelude to a weekend of intense activity. On Saturday, supporters of Guaidó say they will rush the border and form a “humanitarian corridor” to shuttle the stranded aid into the country.
The Chilean shipment includes 8.6 tons of food, medicines and hygiene products that will reach the Colombian city of Cúcuta, bordering Venezuela. President Sebastián Piñera participated in the loading of the first flight with food and medicines on Thursday night.
“Contributing with humanitarian aid, when a sister country in Latin America, like Venezuela, is suffering a humanitarian crisis, which is putting the lives of its inhabitants at risk due to lack of food and lack of medicines, is also to fulfill a moral commitment of solidarity “, said the President in Group 10 of the Chilean Air Force, after supervising the shipment.
“I want to ask all those who have the opportunity to help, to allow humanitarian aid to enter Venezuela, because Venezuelans need it urgently,” added the President, who was accompanied by Foreign Ministers, Roberto Ampuero, and of the Interior, Andrés Chadwick.
The flight includes 700 child hygiene kits and 200 feeding kits, designed according to the “Sphere” standard, which considers a set of minimum standards in the central areas of humanitarian assistance, improving the quality of aid.
En el Puente de la Unidad, que es el centro de acopio, ya se encuentran las ayudas humanitarias enviadas por el @GobiernodeChile y que llegaron en horas de la mañana vía aérea para los ciudadanos venezolanos. @infopresidencia #AcciónHumanitaria pic.twitter.com/qfVw60QfT3
— UNGRD (@UNGRD) February 22, 2019
The feeding kit can meet the needs of a family of four people and includes, among other products, flour, sugar, noodles, rice, tuna, horse mackerel, milk powder, tea, coffee, jam and cookies.
The children’s kit, for children between 5 and 9 years old, has liquid soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, among other products, and allows an adequate cleaning for 30 days.
The list of medical supplies has been established by specialists of the Ministry of Health and includes an antibiotic, two medications for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, an antispasmodic and analgesic, an antiseptic agent, supplies for cleaning and disinfecting wounds and a diuretic for the treatment of Heart failure and hypertension. They are products of high demand in catastrophe situations and are part of the request received from Venezuela.
For some in Chile, it is an open meddling in the internal affairs of another country, following the orders of the U.S. government aimed at overthrowing a constitutional government by any means, and that in no way contributes to the peaceful and dialogued solution of the problems faced by Venezuela.
Others consider that the President intends to use Venezuelan issues to increase popularity internally and, on the external stage, to achieve prominence and become the leader of the Latin American right, for which he also has the leading voice in the possible creation of a regional organization to replace the Union of South American Nations.
Many citizens in the social media have also criticized him for traveling to Colombia and giving priority to what is happening in Venezuela, when he should remain in Chile in charge of the tasks to restore the damage caused in recent weeks by the heavy floods that hit the north of the country and the fires still burning thousands of hectares in the south.