Elliot Abrams, Trump’s point man for regime change in Venezuela, is on his way to the South American country’s Colombian border. Abrams was previously convicted for his lies and facilitation of the Iran-Contra scheme, which delivered drug money, weapons and political cover to right-wing death squads in Central America. Restored to foreign policy under President George W. Bush, Abrams had advanced knowledge of the 2002 failed coup in Venezuela, which used a false-flag operation of snipers shooting into an opposition protest to spread violence and chaos. This time, we’re supposed to believe, Abrams is returning to Latin America in the name of humanitarianism, democracy and human rights.

Abrams’ arrival highlights the likelihood of a provocation this weekend. At minimum, the goal is to provide fresh imagery for the international media to increase the pressure on the Maduro government. But there is also the possibility of a triggering incident to provide justification for military conflict between Venezuela and the far-right governments of Brazil and Colombia, and potentially the deployment of U.S. Special Forces.  The stage has been carefully set for weeks, and the standoff is scheduled to come to a head on Saturday, Feb. 23 — a deadline that self-declared “interim president” Juan Guaidó set for the admission of U.S. “aid.”

The New York Times just published from the border crossing a completely one-sided dispatch, which portrays the Maduro government as cruelly depriving starving people of needed food — for some unknown reason except President Maduro’s pride. The Times report, while admitted that the “aid” is “not that much,” omits that both the UN and Red Cross have said it does not meet the definition of humanitarian, which has to be neutral, apolitical and requested by the receiving country. 

Diosdado Cabello, leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, spoke to the press in Plaza Bolivar in Caracas after a mass rally against the U.S.-backed coup attempt on Feb. 19. He explained:

The U.S. says it will provide food for 20,000 persons. The Bolivarian Revolution, despite the blockade and blocking of our bank accounts and our ability to purchase food, provides food directly to 6 million families. It is shameful for them to say they will bring 70 tons of food when the Bolivarian Revolution, just in our Andean Region, we provide 12,000 tons of food. It is just a TV show, a media show — because they don’t care about our people.

The Venezuelan government has taken the stand that it will not accept fraudulent “aid” from the very countries that are at the same time looting its assets, in colonial fashion, and preventing it from importing food. At the urging of the United States, in late 2017 Belgian financial services firm Euroclear froze $1.65 billion of Venezuelan public funds — including $450 million of cash — that the government was attempting to use to purchase food and medicine. In January, the Bank of England seized $1.2 billion worth of Venezuelan gold. CITGO, the subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil company in the United States valued at $9 billion, was also seized and turned over to Juan Guaidó.

Venezuela has not rejected aid from its international friends. Venezuelan Health Minister Carlos Alvarado announced last week the arrival of 933 tons of medicines and medical supplies from China, Cuba, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Earlier this week, President Maduro announced that 300 tons of Russian aid is scheduled to arrive soon. This is more than ten times the amount being “offered” by U.S. AID, whose director has been giving militant speeches calling for regime change in Venezuela.

Anti-war forces have to be on high alert in the event of an incident at the border this weekend that will trigger an avalanche of negative reporting to demonize the government of Venezuela. Such incidents are crucial elements of any war drive, as history has shown time and again. There are rallies around the United States scheduled this weekend that will provide an immediate counterpoint to this war propaganda. On March 16, a National March on Washington will declare “Hands Off Venezuela!” in front of the White House; this will be a crucial rallying point for all anti-war forces in the United States. All out to Feb. 23 and March 16!