Saucers and soldiers? The Amazon scenario examined
An article by Scott Corrales
by Scott Corrales
Institute of Hispanic Ufology
The Amazon Rainforest has earned itself a place of importance in the public's mind through highly successful efforts by media personalities at creating public awareness of the threats it faces - whether from rapacious poachers, insensitive industrial concerns, or peasant farmers setting fire to huge tracts of rainforest to plant meager crops.
The Amazon - aside from being the Earth's mightiest river - is actually a giant culvert into which drain rivers from all over the northern "hump" of the South American landmass: thousands of miles of tributaries from Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. For decades, this vital natural resource of has earned the distinction of being a place in which UFO and paranormal activity has ocurred. From the raid upon a Brazilian garrison in 1957 to the seige of villages at the giant river's mouth in the early Eighties, events continue to take place that make the study of the phenomenon an even more fantastic challenge.
UFO activity has been particularly heavy in the Brazilian, Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon and its tributary rivers, leading many to strongly suspect the existence of a "UFO base" in the region. Such a belief was voiced as early as 1965, when Dr. Olavo Fontes speculated on a possible extraterrestrial "military" invasion in the northern part of Brazil. A retired military man, Gen. Moacyr Uchoa, seconded this belief, stating that his nation's air force had considerable evidence pointing to the existence of such a site. Uchoa's personal skepticism of the phenomenon was overcome when his daughter was cured of a terminal illness by a UFO entity.
By 1969, just as Project Blue Book was winding down in the U.S., the Brazilian Air Force was setting up its Sistema de Investigacao de Objetos Aereos Nao Idenficados, or SIOANI. This operation coincided with the oft-mentioned Operacao Prato (Operation Plate), whose purpose was that of a collecting information on UFOs from the riverine communities of the Amazon Basin as well as investigate and photograph any anomalous phenomena. However, researchers of distinction, such as Fernando Cleto Nunes Pereira have argued that the bulk of the information collected by Operasao Prato was turned over to the U.S. Air Force. Brazil, having neither the resources nor indeed an overwhelming interest in exploring the UFO enigma, would barter its findings for more tangible benefits.
Operacao Prato most desperate hour, without a doubt, came during the nightmarish siege of the Isle of Colhares in the Lower Amazon between 1977-78. This landmark case of Brazilian ufology dealt with the appearance of the notorious chupas - boxlike flying contraptions which fired laser-like beams against the hapless inhabitants of Amazonian communities. These devices, whose depredations have been detailed by both Jacques Vall,e and Daniel Rebisso Giese, caused Brazil's First Air Regional Command (COMAR) to dispatch its forces not to fight the aliens in some romantic real-life version of Independence Day, but to collect as much information on the unknown quantity and keep the hysterical population of the Amazon Delta under control.
At first, the military scoffed at the exploits of the chupas. But when reports were received from municipal officials, the very real fear of guerrilla activity prompted them to react. While some of COMAR's officers may have eventually believed that they faced an extraterrestrial adversary, the vast majority believed that one of the superpowers was testing advanced weaponry without permission in the Brazilian wilderness.
In his landmark book, Vampiros Extraterrestres Na Amazonia (Extraterrestrial Vampires of the Amazon), ufologist Daniel Rebisso Giese notes that the military personnel involved in the operations at Colhares managed to acquire considerable amounts of information in the form of photographs, video footage and audio recordings, but attempts at pursuing the enigmatic UFOs with helicopters proved fruitless. In an interview with author Pablo Villarubia, Rebisso noted that some of the soldiers involved in Operacao Prato suffered nervous breakdowns while others went completely insane.
By 1981, the residents of these riverine communities were still being terrorized by the coffin-like chupas. A local hunter had been cornered by one of the weird devices and fired a shotgun blast at it in an attempt to free himself from the paralyzing effects of its white beam of light. The light gave him a shock of such intensity that it made him pass out. Claudia Rodr¡gues, a plantation worker, was at home one night when a chupa fired a beam at her through the roof of her house. She was later taken to a hospital in Belem, almost 200 miles away, to be treated for radiation burns.
The UFO-related activity goes back to the early days of the contemporary UFO era. In November 1953, Pedro Serrate was walking along the banks of the Mamor, River in Bolivian Amazonia when he became aware of a discoidal object some hundred and fifty away from him. The thing's hull seemed to be made of a dark blue, glassy material. Curious, Serrate got closer to the craft and was able to catch a glimpse of its human-looking crew complement. When the uniformed humanoids caught off-guard, became aware of Serrate's presence, the vehicle rose silently into the air, disappearing in a matter of seconds.
Four years later, it was the Brazilian military that would be caught off guard by a UFO: at 2:03 a.m. on November 3, 1957 a star-like object flew over Fort Itaipu, heading for it at breakneck speed. Startled sentries were left stunned by the orange, discoidal craft which issued a singeing blast of heat, leaving them unconscious. Believing themselves to be under enemy attack, the garrison mobilized in time to see an orange light rising up from the fort and moving across the sky.
Perhaps the chupas and their operators have included humans among their sampling of Amazonia's flora and fauna. In April of 1960, three well-outfitted expeditions disappeared without a trace in the rainforest: the first of the three was a 22-man party of surveyors and engineers whose mission it was to study the proposed layout of the Transamazonian Highway (BR 65). The second expedition, a rescue party, went in search of the first when nothing else was ever heard from it, and it too disappeared. The third was a six-man military patrol, experienced in counterinsurgency and jungle fighting, which had been sent out from Colombian Amazonia to find the whereabouts of the first two. Nothing was ever heard from them again, either.
The Venezuelan Amazon is not without its own sightings of mysterious craft. in November of 1976, the villagers of San Juan de Manapiare, a jungle settlement accessible only by plane (a 45 minute ride from Puerto Ayacucho), were to witness an astonishing spectacle: a brilliant object illuminated the 600- foot high Morrocoy Hill, a few miles away from the settlement, striking fear in the hearts of the bemused witnesses. The sightings were repeated every night for a week, with the same object appearing over different sites. Units of the Venezuelan National Guard, stationed inthe region, were sent out to investigate the phenomenon. The object, described as resembling "another Moon" by witness Luis Mingu, would vanish by disappearing into a cloud. Surprisingly, the strangeness of these events did not arouse the curiosity of the hemisphere's only superpower. Or did it?
The United States manifested an interest in the region for the first time in the 1960's, when American interest penetrated the Amazon Basin in search of a rare mineral - niobium, a silvery- grey metal vital to the production of spaceflight-related alloys and the cores of nuclear reactors, as niobium cannot be corroded by uranium. Both niobium and manganese can be found in relative abundance within Amazonia.
U.S. awareness of the area further increased in 1994, when the Raytheon corporation (famous for its Patriot missiles employed during the Gulf War) was awarded a $1.4 billion dollar contract to build a radar system. This in itself is hardly surprising, given the company's record of building similar facilities for the U.S. Navy, particularly the highly controversial "over the horizon" system (ROTHR) being deployed on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. The curious note was that the call for bids had issued from Brazil, which was interested in creating an advanced radar network within Amazonia to be known as SIVAM.
The avowed purpose of the SIVAM system was to improve air- traffic control, assist in meteorological reporting, and as an added bonus "provide support for drug interdiction efforts". Ranging from Boa Vista in the State of Roraima (at the feet of the Guyana Highlands) and as far south as Vilhena in Rondonia, SIVAM's twelve overmuscled radar systems would relay their information to "jungle processing centers" in Manaus and Porto Velho and then on to the "main command center" in.
Brasilia itself. The system's construction would have gone by unnoticed by the rest of the world, but in 1995, members of the Brazilian senate accused Raytheon of having bribed government functionaries to win the bid. One of these senators, Eduardo Suplicy, charged that Raytheon's aim was to "provide the CIA with privileged information regarding Amazonia." While the nature of said confidential information probably had to do with the region's mostly untapped mineral wealth, would it be unreasonable to surmise - given what is known of the area - that overly sophisticated radar system might serve another purpose, such as the detection of strange objects flying over the region?
In the summer of 1993, South American newspapers published articles discussing the Bolivian and Peruvian governments' discomfiture at the prospect of a large contingent of U.S. forces setting up a "semi-permanent" base in the Bolivian Amazon as part, allegedly, of the vaunted "War On Drugs".
Over a hundred U.S. troops from the 37th Airborne, stationed at Fort Bragg, have been engaged in the construction of facilities at Santa Ana, a small Amazonian village in the Beni region of Bolivia (curiously enough, along the banks of the Mamor, River, where Serrate's 1953 sighting occured). A powerful transmitter, also under construction, will enable direct communication with the Panama-based Southern Command and the Pentagon itself. The Bolivian parliament, incensed by the presence of the foreign "garrison", questioned President Jaime Paz Zamora over the matter. The official explanation given to all and sundry is that the soldiers "are building a school". Independent investigators appointed by the Bolivian parliament visited the jungle area in question, stating in their report that the weapon systems being brought into the country were of a power in excess of anything needed to fight drug traffickers or insurgent groups like the Sendero Luminoso terrorists. Bolivia's vice-president cautioned the parliament that "it was unwise to look a gift horse in the mouth." Could the avowed purpose of these troops be to monitor the increased UFO activity that is taking place throughout Amazonia?
UFOINFO would like to thank Scott Corrales (Inexplicata) and UFO UpDates for granting permission to use this article. To keep up to date with follow-up reports and discussions you are advised to subscribe to UFO UpDates by contacting Errol Bruce-Knapp at: http://ufoupdateslist.com
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