Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The government of President Nicolas Maduro said Monday it's organizing two days of concerts and aid distribution this weekend -- a response to concert plans by rival opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela's communication minister, said several artists will participate in a concert themed "Hands off Venezuela" to be held on Friday and Sunday, Telesur reported.
Saturday, the government will distribute 20,000 boxes to Colombian and Venezuelan citizens. Doctors, including pediatritians, dentists and other specialists, will also offer free medical treatment, said Telesur, a news outlet financed by the Venezuelan government.
The concert will be held at the Simon Bolivar bridge, which is the main road access between Colombia and Venezuela that crosses the Tachira River.
The concert will last two days and include "the participation of numerous national and international artists in support of Venezuelan democracy," the report said.
Rodriguez told reporters Monday the government accepted suggestions from Venezuelan artists to organize the concert. He said so many had volunteered to perform that it has to be held over two days.
The concert will occur Friday near the same area National Assembly leader Juan Guaido and British billionaire Richard Branson will stage their own concert, announced last week. It will be held in Cucuta, Colombia.
Rodriguez said the distribution of aid to Colombia is necessary, as the area has 10 percent extreme poverty in a "humanitarian crisis."
Venezuela's Maduro does not consider the aid donated by the United States, Canada and other countries as anything other than an attempt to create instability in his government, which has been deemed illegitimate by more than 50 countries, including the United States and most large Latin American nations.
Maduro's government lost legitimacy after he was sworn for a second presidential term on Jan. 10 despite warnings by foreign governments and international organizations not to do so. The results of the May 2018 vote that re-elected Maduro were not widely accepted. Maduro, who has the backing of the military, has rejected calls for new elections.
Guaido assumed the interim presidency in defiance of Maduro and the military that supports him, on grounds that the Venezuelan constitution allows the National Assembly to take over when the presidency is declared vacant, which it did last month
The United States stepped up efforts to corner Maduro last week by imposing sanctions against Venezuelan oil so its proceeds can only go to accounts controlled by Guaido.
At least three million Venezuelans have left the country in recent years amid ongoing economic and political troubles. Political violence and repression saw Venezuela last year become the Latin American country with the highest homicide rate.
Guaido has said massive amounts of humanitarian aid are needed to save the lives of tens of thousands at risk.