- 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
- By 1969, just as Project Blue Book was winding down in
the U.S., the Brazilian Air Force was setting up its Sistema de Investigaao
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
Operaao 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.
- Operaao 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
- 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 RodrÁgues, 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 Itaip, 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
- 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 Manas 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
- 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?
- From Tony Castelluci
- This US Army press release confirms the pressence of
the Army in Bolivia in 1997.
- The name of the opperation (New Horizons) is interesting
if you take it in the context of the Article on your Website, Saucers and