The concert venue was the Simon Bolivar bridge on the Colombia-Venezuela border [AFP]


Tens of thousands of people have converged on the border between Colombia border and Venezuela for a free concert held to call for peace after the region's worst diplomatic crisis in decades.

 

Organisers said Sunday's free 'Peace Without Borders' concert at the Simon Bolivar bridge was intended to send a message to the leaders of the two countries to give peace a chance.

 

Peace is the most important thing we have and we have to fight for it

The concert featuring some of the biggest names in Latin American music was organised by Colombian rock star Juanes who said he wanted the event to ease tensions and promote good relations.

 

Many of the thousands of concertgoers attending Sunday's performance were dressed in white.

 

Addressing the crowd, the Grammy award-winning singer had a clear message for Alvaro Uribe, Rafael Correa and Hugo Chavez - the Colombian, Ecuadorian and Venezuelan presidents respectively.

 

"We are all citizens who believe that the future of a country is not only a matter for a president, a government, but also for us," Juanes said from the main stage.

 

"We are part of it - the movement of the citizens."

 

Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian president, had originally planned to attend the concert but cancelled at the last minute saying Juanes' manager asked him not to come because the show "was not to be a political event".

 

Late last Thursday, the Colombian and Venezuelan governments issued statements saying the two leaders had spoken and have agreed to meet soon.

 

Easing tensions

 

Artistes and concert-goers sent regional
leaders a message of peace [AFP]
The three countries had been embroiled in a week-long spat following a Colombian raid early this month on a Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebel base in Ecuador.

 

Raul Reyes, the rebel group's second-in-command, was killed in the aerial attack, triggering the diplomatic crisis which saw Ecuador and its ally Venezuela cut off diplomatic ties with Colombia and deploy troops to their borders.

 

Colombia later defused the crisis by apologising and promising not to take similar action if its neighbours co-operated in fighting the rebel group.

 

On Sunday, thousands of concert-goers danced and sang to performers including including Colombian singer Carlos Vives, Spain's Alejandro Sanz and Miguel Bose, Venezuela's Ricardo Montaner and Mexican pop-rock band Mana.

 

Juan Luis Guerra, the Dominican merengue star who also performed at the concert, said: "Peace is the most important thing we have and we have to fight for it."

Source: Agencies