A heightened security presence, associated transportation disruptions, and crowded conditions are expected in Cúcuta (Norte de Santander department) on Friday, February 22, during the Venezuela Aid Live benefit concert. According to local sources, some 250,000 people are expected to attend the event, which is being organized to raise funds for aid to Venezuelans. City officials have announced that some 1500 police officers will be deployed to provide security during the event. Demonstrations are possible near the event.
In recent months, Cúcuta has become a strategic point for the inflow of humanitarian aid into Venezuela. Additional Venezuelan forces deployed to border areas in Táchira in September 2018. On February 20, French diplomatic officials issued a security alert advising travelers to avoid all gatherings in Cúcuta due to the possibility of protests.
The current crisis in Venezuela was spurred by Maduro's inauguration to a second term as president on January 10 following last year's contested election, prompting the National Assembly to declare a national emergency. At least 50 foreign governments, including the US, Canada, and Brazil, among others, have since recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim head of state. Guaidó indicated that opposition leadership is in contact with military officials to discuss forcing Maduro out, although he has declined to provide additional details.
Individuals in Cúcuta are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence, and adhere to all instructions issued by their home governments.
As a reminder, due to the presence of a number of armed groups, as well a heightened tensions between the countries, Western governments generally advise against travel to most border areas on the frontier with Venezuela.
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