News and opinions on the situation in Venezuela
So speaks the wounded raging bull: Oscar Heck is back…
Venezuela’s Electronic News — www.vheadline.com
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005
VHeadline.com commentarist Oscar Heck writes: First, I would like to apologize to all VHeadline.com readers who have recently written to me yet have not received responses. I will get to it as soon as possible. Now, some of you may have noticed that I have been away from VHeadline.com for a while, for several weeks now … with only a few short appearances during this period.
Some readers may find this interesting: It all started in December 2002 … while I was in Venezuela, traveling the country during the US-financed sabotage (December 2002 to March 2003).
Since I was traveling continuously, I used the services of internet cafes … of which there are many throughout most of the country. Usually, only a few isolated areas have no internet access because they have no telephone landlines … places like Playa Colorada (only one hours east of Puerto La Cruz, a well-known vacation resort town) or San Eusebio (a far-away Andean hamlet where fog covers most of the scenery most of the time … and where breathing is quite difficult for an outsider, due to the altitude).
At the time, I used VHeadline.com’s email service as well as a Hotmail address, incase one or the other malfunctioned … which they did … and unfortunately, both malfunctioned at about the same time. I later also opened an additional email address with Yahoo, which I used for some time as well.
But what happened? Why did both email addresses malfunction at about the same time in January/February 2003? An what does this have to do with my recent absence from VHeadline.com? Lots. I will explain.
My wife is Venezuelan … and we live in Canada much of the year … and prior to January 2002, we kept up to date on Venezuelan news by reading the internet editions of the traditional Venezuelan Spanish-language newspapers. We read El Nacional, El Universal and Tal Cual … the three “most reputable” newspapers in Venezuela. Essentially, at the time, there were no other independent mainstream Venezuelan Spanish-language sources of information available on the internet.
In late 2001, when the elected Venezuelan National Assembly approved the process for the creation of the “reformatory laws” (land, banking, agricultural reforms and much more) a mass frenzy erupted at the hands of the Venezuelan opposition (to Chavez). The sabotage had thus begun … mostly, media sabotage and the starting of rumors and lies … much of it (as we later found out) financed by the US government , through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
All three major Venezuelan newspapers, the ones mentioned above, and all four major television stations (which are all owned and controlled by anti-Chavez interests) began a highly synchronized terrorist campaign against Chavez. All the sources mentioned above basically repeated the same things, over and over, with almost photocopy perfection. This is when my wife and I began to seek out other internet sources for news … but, apart from Venezuelan government sources, there were no other mainstream internet Spanish-language sources based in Venezuela
This is when we discovered VHeadline.com. Although it was an English-language news source, and after weeks and months of comparing VHeadline.com information with other internet sources which published news or views about Venezuela, my wife and I came to the same conclusion … VHeadline.com was clearly the most objective and the most complete.
VHeadline.com was and still is the most reliable English-language source of information about Venezuela.
I began to send letters to the editor at VHeadline.com in November 2002 because I (we) were very concerned about the lies which were being spread about Venezuela through the traditional news outlets, Venezuelan or not. It is important to realize at this point that most news sources which are not Venezuelan-based acquire most of their information from the traditional Venezuelan news sources mentioned above (plus Globovision), and rarely, if ever, base their information on RNV or VTV (the Venezuelan government’s news sources). In some cases, some non-Venezuelan news agencies have their our employees, researchers and writers in Venezuela … but the result is basically the same, their news usually reflects the views spun by the traditional Venezuelan mainstream media, all sympathetic to the anti-Chavez cause (hype!).
By December 2002 I was a regular writer for VHeadline.com.
This is when the trouble began.
During November and the beginning of December, when the Venezuelan opposition’s attack and sabotage of the Venezuelan economy began (after a failed coup in April 2002), I had received only a handful of letters from VHeadline.com readers who called me names such as idiot, ***hole, communist, Marxist (and I had no idea what Marxism was at the time!), useless and ignorant. By mid December, since I couldn’t be hushed, the hate mail increased by 1000% (my estimate) . That is, instead of receiving 10 hate mails per day, I was receiving 100 per day, and often, more. This continued non-stop between about December 15 (2002) and March 15 (2003) … eventually settling down to an average of about 50 or so hate mails per week … except for two other time periods when the hate mail again increased dramatically: one prior to and after the legitimate signature collection campaign for a referendum against Chavez (a period stretching from the end of 2003 to the beginning of 2004) … and the other, prior to and after the referendum against Chavez in August 2004 (a period of about 3 months).
Although hate mail is not pleasant to receive, if one passes the test, one eventually develops a thick skin of sorts … or a kind of automatic protection system which keeps one away from the edges of depression or suicide.
It isn’t fun to continuously hear people telling you that you are no good, and idiot, a jerk or a “retard” simply because you refuse to agree with their views. Many of the people who write hate mail know this, they know how it can negatively affect a person, often to the point of abandonment and despair.
They know. That is why they do it. To stop their rivals from expressing themselves .. and many a time they succeed.
The vast majority of the people who send me violent hate mail are “sifrinos,” members of Venezuela’s snobbish, and often racist mid-to-upper classes who traditionally use such tactics (coercion, threats, hiring of goons, etc.) to make their fortunes and to keep an upper hand over the poorer 80% majority.
Things then became even nastier.
Although at the time I wasn’t sure, I suspected something fishy was going on because, apart from receiving hundreds of viruses every day, the hate mail had reached such large proportions and it was taking me at least 6 hours per day to respond to the people who were sending me the hate mail. The threats had gone from, leave Venezuela, go home to Canada, to … we are on to you, we will find you and get rid of you, be sure about it, you are a dead man, and so is your family … we know where you are, we know where your family is … we know who you are, we know how to find you … watch your back, your time will come … and the time will come for all Chavistas like you to face your fate.
By January and February 2003, precisely during the time period when Maria Corina Machado was leading her illegitimate signature collection campaign against Chavez, “El Firmazo,” … and precisely when all the major television stations were showing blood, gore, war, violence, dismembered bodies, decapitated humans, Hiroshima, Hitler and Mussolini … during children’s cartoon hours … I lost my Hotmail email address and VHeadline.com went off the air.
What happened? And why?
At the same time as I had been receiving the viruses and the threats, so was VHeadline.com .. and so were VHeadline.com’s paying advertisers. As a consequence, VHeadline.com lost all its paying advertisers … and had to be shut down, albeit, temporarily.
I lost my Hotmail address simply because I was unable to use it. The saboteurs made very sure that I would not be able to continue using it. I changed emails, created new names, and every time, the same thing happened. I would receive hundreds and hundreds of heavy emails every day (plus the usual hundreds of viruses). This would automatically create the situation in which my oldest emails simply disappeared … were erased automatically. I was unable to answer emails because they would leave my mailbox (and go for deletion) as fast as they would come in.
The saboteurs who were spending so much time and energy sabotaging us probably felt invincible …
To this day, they do not realize that they have been traced on several occasions … and that some of us know where some of them are. However, even so, we at VHeadline.com do not go around threatening them or their families or their paying customers.
At the end of March 2003, when I returned to Canada, I was to have an even bigger surprise. I logged into my computer. Within days I found myself in the same dilemma … faced with a massive overflow of useless heavy emails aimed at shutting down this email as well. I also received hundreds of viruses every single day .. but I had little protection because I had not updated my anti-virus for over three months. The inevitable happened … and my computer was sent on its merry way to the recycling bins … along with most of the information it contained.
We bought another computer, a brand new one, and we had it well protected and added firewalls and other security features. People who know about computers said that we were well protected … almost indestructible. Well, well, well … when I returned from Venezuela, after another trip at the end of 2003 (when the opposition was in full anti-Chavez swing and again sabotaging anyone who did not support their devious ways), I had another surprise. Yes, I booted my new computer at home … and guess what? The same thing all over again … but worse.
Above and beyond the viruses and heavy emails I was also somehow being cut off from all communication to and from my computer and to and from my server. Someone, somewhere was hacking into my computer and into the server system … and it had something to do with Venezuela … and it certainly had something to do with my writings. This type of sabotage only occurred after I had written certain very incriminating articles and only during periods of significant anti-Chavez activity.
Temporarily, I created a new Yahoo email address … while my computer was being looked at by a person knowledgeable in computers. The computer was a mess and had to be redone .. but first … we hired a professional hacker … he connected the computer to the internet and then struck at the keyboard like a madman, typed in codes and numbers and leaned back and watched. He repeated what appeared to be a similar process for several hours, expressions on his face changing every few minutes. He was stunned, he said that my computer was being hacked into by professionals … not by just by some bothersome hacker … they have better things to do than to waste time hacking into Oscar Heck’s email!
The hacking came from “special” sources … and he suspected the CIA … or some similar organization or group … perhaps an office somewhere dedicated full-time to such activity … probably somewhere in the USA.
Although it came as a surprise, it didn’t.
Who would have the time, the resources and the money or know-how to hack into my well-protected computer?
Who would be interested in hacking into the computer of a relatively insignificant writer who writes about Venezuela?
I had made several tests over time to confirm the suspicion I had about the CIA (or some other similar subversive group) being involved in this. There is a way to check it, but it has nothing to do with hacking or knowing how to hack. We had hired the hacker simply so that we could confirm my suspicions. I talked to him about the tests I had done prior to his visit, and he laughed, yes, that is the way to do it, they would never know that they are being monitored while they monitor you. Impossible. We laughed .. but I still had a dilemma, my computer was an almost total wreck … again!
I lost almost all the information I had, again.
The hacker took the computer home for a few weeks and reconfigured, reloaded, and reformatted it. I was finally able to continue writing for VHeadline.com again.
Everything was ok until a few weeks ago when I wrote one particular article which apparently sent huge waves across the violent anti-Chavez sectors, some in England, many in Miami (and New York) and others in Venezuela. They know who they are, and I know who some of them are. The article brought, once again, threats and immediately thereafter, more hacking … which destroyed my computer again … this time, completely destroyed! Our computer person spent about 4 weeks with it, trying everything to save as much of our information as possible and testing as many components as possible. Goodbye computer … the hard drive had to be replaced.
But now it is back. It has been over 6 weeks.
Oscar Heck is back . and I have begun checking my emails.
Among the many emails awaiting me, I received an interesting letter. The person who writes has a good point, and I appreciate it when people write to me with observations such as these. Enjoy the letter. I follow with my own comments. The subject of the letter is, “Ethics.”
“Dear Mr. Heck. I follow the activities surrounding Maria Corina Machado, and although I do have my own opinion as to whether she is right or wrong, I read both sides of the argument. Your commentary used to be included in what I read, until you published “Maria Corina Machado will probably be convicted for treason, sedition and fraud” on 15 November. Your writings have consistently deteriorated from passionately against her to the scribblings of a raging wounded bull. Indeed the tone of this latest article is more of a jilted lover than one who has a valid point to make. I believe you have the absolute right to condemn Machado’s or anyone else’s activities in accordance with your own value system; however, once you lose your ability to communicate in a professional way, it becomes hard for the reader to take your arguments seriously.”
Although I have not yet responded to this person (I just received my computer), I would like to make something clear, something I tend to do every few months. The writer is right to some degree. My writings, when it concerns Maria Corina Machado or any other person of that caliber, are going from “passionately against” to “completely and irrevocably against,” and worse (depending on how one sees it).
If Machado had attempted to stop her conniving, violence-promoting and dishonest ways, regardless of whether or not she continued to lead from within anti-Chavez groups, I would have said to myself, ok, good, she has finally come to her senses and has decided that violence, deceit, lies, dishonesty and sabotage are not the way to go. But this isn’t at all what has happened, far from it.
A good portion of the anti-Chavez people who at some time or other in the recent past used or promoted violence and deceit, have basically shut up or gone quietly into hiding … some of them quite aware of the massive damage which they inflicted onto millions of innocent Venezuelans in the last 3 years … damage which they were directly and personally responsible for. Machado however did (and does) the contrary. She visits with Bush … she accepts more money from the NED … and she travels to the USA on several occasions to meet several “influential” people on whose shoulders she fakes the tears of a “politically persecuted innocent victim.” Above all, she claims to be a “patriotic mother of young children” who risks being jailed for years for participating in “promoting democracy.” Of course, she excludes the fact that she participated in the April 2002 coup against Chavez! She is not the victim she tries to con people into believing!
She comes from an extremely wealthy Venezuelan family, so I suppose that she has the money to pursue whatever dreams she wants … but as evidenced by her words and actions, she has no intentions of using honesty and democratic methods to reach her goals. Violence, coercion and influence peddling are still on her agenda, and evidently so. No one can say no to this. These are facts.
Violence? What violence?
Machado continues to state that she had nothing to do with the April 2002 coup (violence which left several innocent people dead) and that she should not be prosecuted. What makes her so special? Her family name? Her social status? What? The goodness of her heart, which I doubt she has much of? Her sense of remorse (which she has never demonstrated publicly)? The money? The fact that she sat personally with Bush at the White House, hand in hand … with pictures to prove it?
What precisely makes this mother of two or three so special?
The answer is, nothing. Nothing at all. She was in fact involved with the coup. She was part of the gang of several hundred “influential” Venezuelans who signed documents backing the coup, a violent coup … and all this was captured on film. Worse yet, with all the money she has she could live happily and quietly somewhere .. but instead, she goes out of her way to create havoc, to lie and to court and conspire with those who promote the use of violence to oust democratically-elected Chavez from power, one of them being Pat Robertson, who called for the assassination of Chavez a few months back. I am quite sure she also hangs around with Carlos Andres Perez and Carlos Ortega an others who also publicly called for the assassination of Chavez. If she doesn’t hang around them, she certainly did at some point, directly or indirectly. These people are all on the same boat … they are common thieves and criminals … Bush, Otto Reich, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney and others included.
I will not forget what Machado and people like her did to the Venezuela Pueblo, the helpless, innocent 80% poorer majority, most of whom whole-heartedly support and voted for Chavez . I will never forget, nor will I ever let it go, especially when arrogant people like Machado continue to parade themselves in robes of righteousness and “influence” while lying through their teeth … at the expense and the wellbeing of their innocent fellow Venezuelans … seeking only to reach their own personal goals at the detriment of others.
In my barrio, two people died in late January 2003 during Machado’s Firmazo campaign … because they could not reach the hospital … because wealthy Machado supporters had blocked off all access roads to and from my barrio (shantytown) … because they believed that most of the people in the barrio were Chavez supporters .. because they believed that by blocking the thoroughfares which the people from the barrios use to get back and forth from work they would somehow succeed in coercing the Chavistas (Chavez supporters) into submission.
When I found out about this I went to one of the locations where they had blocked of the roads. As I approached I was threatened by a crowd of rock and stick-bearing wealthy Machado supporters. Screaming and yelling at me, they promised to kill me if I continued to attempt at passing beyond their barricade. I asked them what would happen I someone needed to get to the hospital … and their response was … nobody gets through! A hundred against one! All white-skinned, all wealthy, all anti-Chavez, all pro-Machado.
In February 2003 I saw other Machado supporters threatening people with stones and metal bars at the entrance/exit to the highway at the bottom of a main road at Bello Monte, a wealthy area in eastern Caracas … simply because the people did not want to join them in burning Caracas to the ground. They were all whiter-skinned … unlike most Chavez supporters who are majoritarily darker-skinned.
Simply put, I have absolutely no respect for people like Machado, none whatsoever … and I never will … because I have a very good memory.
As long as she continues to open her mouth in her typical fashion, I will continue to open my mouth in my typical fashion, but with greater force, louder and with more anger. I am not an “intellectual” nor am I a diplomat or a “professional” … nor do I have any desire to become any of these.
However, I am an excellent investigator … and I will do everything I possibly can to find any evidence against Machado and publish it on VHeadline.com .. just as I discovered and published the first information on VHeadline.com relating to who in Venezuela was receiving money from the NED … information which the Venezuelan justice system is now using to prosecute people like Machado … information which eventually led to the demise of my second computer.
If my complete lack of respect for people such as Machado is construed as being “unethical,” let it be so.
I will not allow people like Machado to get away with their lies, not for a minute!
I won’t sit back “professionally” to watch these people plunder Venezuela and murder innocent people.
So speaks the wounded raging bull.
www.vheadline.com/heck More VHeadline.com commentaries by Oscar Heck
Oscar Heck has been a VHeadline.com commentarist for over 3 years and has contributed close to 500 articles. Born in Canada, Oscar has spent most of his life working as an executive recruiter and corporate investigator. He has traveled to 34 countries and lived/worked in 12, including Kuwait during the Gulf War (1991). Oscar’s love affair with Venezuela began 30 years ago when he first went to work as a missionary in the shantytowns (barrios) of Caracas and in the Barlovento area, east of Caracas. Over the years, Oscar has traveled and worked throughout much of Venezuela, living mostly in the barrios. Oscar’s strong anti-US-government stance stems mostly from his experience in the Gulf War and from his vast exposure to the inside workings of large corporations. His strong pro-Venezuela stance stems from his love for the Venezuelan Pueblo and from his unwavering belief that Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s current President, is taking positive steps toward enhancing the lives of the traditionally exploited, abused and excluded 80% majority. Oscar is fluent in English, Spanish and French.
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