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By Nicole Acevedo and Associated Press
The United States and Venezuela have reached an agreement Friday to extend the stay of U.S. diplomats in Caracas amid skyrocketing tensions between the countries.
U.S. officials said the agreement will allow the diplomats to remain in Venezuela for another 30 days amid a battle over the legitimacy of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The agreement to extend U.S. diplomats’ stay comes amid a massive benefit concert taking place in the Colombian town of Cúcuta, near Venezuela’s border, to raise funds and call attention to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as well as push for Maduro to allow international aid into the country.
Maduro has said the aid is part of a larger effort from other countries to topple him.
The crowd at the Live Aid Venezuela concert in Cucuta, Colombia, on Feb. 22, 2019.Raul Arboleda / AFP – Getty Images
Well-known Latin music artists such as Danny Ocean, Paulina Rubio, Carlos Vives and Venezuelan veteran star Jose Luis Rodriguez “El Puma” have already performed at the “Venezuela Aid Live” concert stage in front of thousands of people.
However, an internet watchdog group said many people were unable to watch the benefit concert after it was blocked from view for many in Venezuela. The non-governmental group Netblocks reported that websites such as YouTube, Google and TV stations showing the concert appear to have been blocked.
Netblocks said YouTube, Bing and Google services inside Venezuela went down for nearly an hour during the concert.
Tensions between Venezuela and the U.S. rose after the Trump administration recognized parliament chief and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate leader. Guiadó declared himself the country’s interim president last month and gained the support of other countries in the region and Europe.
In response, Maduro announced he was severing diplomatic relations with the U.S., expelling all American diplomats and recalling Venezuelan diplomats from the United States.
Instead, the U.S. reduced its staff at the Caracas embassy to a bare minimum but said it had no plans to close the mission. An interim arrangement allowing that was due to expire on Monday.