Friday, December 23, 2011

Latin American High Weirdness: The UFOs Part III

In the last installment of this series we once again considered the infamous Nine in relation to the UFO phenomenon in Latin America. While there seems to be some legitimate paranormal phenomenon involved with the Nine our next case subject is pure PSYOPs. In the 1970s, in the nation of Argentina, a branch of one of the most notorious government-backed UFO hoaxes set up shop. I am of course referring to the notorious UMMO affair. Much of UMMO unfolded in Europe, beginning in Spain in the mid-1960s, via a series of documents attributed to an extraterrestrial civilization known as Ummo. The Fortean Times notes:
"Some time around the end of 1965 and the beginning of 1966, a number of Spanish UFO enthusiasts received anonymous communications claiming to come from an “extraterrestrial expeditionary group” from the star Wolf 424 on a mission to Earth. The letters had been posted from various countries – including Spain, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and Germany. Each was ‘authenticated’ with a strange logo designated the seal of 'the Unified government of the planet Ummo.' (Apparently the design was inked onto a fingertip, then used to ‘stamp’ on the letters...)

"The Ummo papers... were truly mystifying; they appeared to be skilled expositions, displayed a wide knowledge of science and philosophy and did not look like the ravings of lunatics. Over time, several hundred letters were received, some of them voluminous and illustrated manuscripts. Occasionally, someone received a phone call; the Ummite voice was curiously mechanical, as though deliberately distorted. Religious matters were dealt with historically – for Catholic readers, there was the added interest of learning about an ancient Ummite parallel to Christ in ‘Ummowoa’, a prophet whose body vanished from the table on which he was being vivisected by order of an evil Empress – but, behind the unverifiable and convoluted tracts about alien philosophy and the science of Ummo, was a sentiment that was clearly anti-Franco in its description of a utopian society that was a strange mix of communism and the 'American way of life'.

"The first recipients of the Ummo missions were loosely associated with the Sociedad de Amigos de los Visitantes del Espacio (Friends of Space Visitors Society) formed by Fernando Sesma to discuss UFOs and extraterrestrials. In 1970, a number of these recipients formed their own organisation, called ERIDANI, to study the Ummo case. Several of them wrote books – including Fernando Sesma’s Ummo: Another Inhabited Planet (1967) and Looking Toward The Edge Of The Universe (1968) by Father Enrique Lopez Guerrero, the best known outside Spain being Antonio Ribera’s The Ummo Mystery (1975). The authors differed widely in their opinions of the origin of the letters and the meaning of their contents, but they agreed on their extraterrestrial origin. The only alternative considered was that the letters were part of some kind of social engineering experiment perpetrated by an unknown intelligence agency – the KGB, the East German Stasi, the CIA and the Vatican organisation Opus Dei were all mooted, even by the Ummite letter-writer."

A Ummo 'spacecraft'

The legendary ufologist Jacques Vallee pondered whether or not the Ummo affair was linked to an Eastern bloc intelligence outfit during the Cold War.
"A disquieting possibility, under serious investigation by some French authorities, is that UMMO is linked to an Eastern bloc intelligence agency specialized in scientific espionage.

"'The idea is not as farfetched as it may seem at first sight,' a French specialist told me. 'Setting up such a group could have the effect of channeling a lot of grass-roots UFO information, some of it very private, toward the leaders of the group. But more importantly, it could help them acquire valuable, confidential insight into current scientific research ideas in Western laboratories...'

"The obvious link between an alleged extraterrestrial sect and some advanced ideas in modern science is troubling. If the ramifications of the UMMO group into a network designed for the gathering of technical and scientific intelligence, or into the French and German structure of the LaRouche movement, can be confirmed, another nail will be hammered into the coffin of the friendly space brothers."
(Revelations, Jacques Vallee, pgs. 115-116)
Western UFO organizations as a means of tracking recent scientific developments? This explanation seems rather weak to me, especially since many civilian UFO organizations aren't exactly known for their hard approach to science. Keeping tabs on these organization as a way of tracking potentially unstable individuals seems much more likely, especially if a Western intelligence outfit was behind the Ummo affair. Another possibility is that the UMMO affair was meant as a sociological experiment, which Vallee is also rather dismissive of.
"...that UMMO was created as a government-sponsered sociological exercise that somehow acquired a life of its own and got out of hand, with diverse individuals or groups getting into the act for their own ego gratification or gain...

"I am not they are right. A genuine sect, of the type often used as cover by intelligence agencies, could have been created more effectively by conventional means, such as providing financing to an existing group with a suitably charismatic leader. But obviously we do not have the whole story. The remarkable fact in the UMMO hoax is that it has no visible leaders. It is simply a framework within which multiple successive authors can in fact operate. A disturbing fact discovered by French investigators seems to link some of the scientists of the UMMO group with the LaRouche extremist movement in Europe. If that link can be verified, the UMMO mystery will take a sinister turn.

"UMMO, is certainly one of the best examples of the systematic application of confusion techniques in the paranormal field. The novelty in the hoax was to create ostensibly genuine sightings that would result in innocent witnesses coming forward to be interviewed by the media and by well-intentioned UFO investigators who could only conclude they were sincere, while the perpetrators remained in the background, manipulating the photographic and physical evidence."
(ibid, pg. 110)

Lyndon LaRouche

A few points: The LaRouche movement Vallee keeps referring to is in reference to the followers of Lyndon LaRouche, a far left American 'activist' who has never the less inspired followers internationally that encompass both the radical left and right. The so-called LaRouche movement became quite notorious in Europe in the 80s and early 1990s. Another point: Vallee dismisses the notion of the UMMO affair as a sociological experiment on the basis that it doesn't have a central leader like other such intelligence operations. However, that might have been the whole point of the experiment: to see if a movement could be created in such an anonymous and decentralized fashion and to see what direction it would take from there. Various intelligence agencies may have simply leaked the initial UMMO documents, then stood back and observed the fruits they bore.

Anyway, back to Latin America. The UMMO affair has several interesting links to this region to the world. For one, the whole movement seems to have been inspired by a short story by the legendary Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges called "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius."
"According to Borges' story, Tlon is a hypothetical planet invented by a group of clever men financed in the United States by an eccentric Southern aristocrat in Memphis. They use their own talents and that of various contractors to produce a monumental work, an encyclopedia of Tlon, complete with the details of the languages, the philosophies, and the mathematics of Tlon. But they only reveal a little bit of it at a time to the unsuspecting public. The founders, who are members of a secret society called Orbis Tertius, have sworn to remain hidden forever...

"Following the gradual release of the Memphis collection of the secret forty-volume Tlon Encyclopedia, more and more people will start to believe in Tlon, a belief reinforced by the discovery of Tlonian objects made of unusual materials around the world. Borges points out diabolically that as the belief in Tlon grows, our own society, which doesn't know that there is no such thing as Tlon, will start producing iys own spurious hronir, pseudofacts and quasimemories of Tlon that will slowly replace the old reality. Borges even envisions a future state where the hoax begun by the secret society he calls Orbis Tertius will have totally disintegrated the rational world...

"The frightening, even terrifying fact, says Borges, is that the unknown masters of Orbis Tertius are slowly substituting their own reality for ours. Indeed, the earth will soon have become Tlon!"
(ibid, pgs. 111-113)

Vallee makes light of the Borges story, but in reality it is quite apt: The true objective of both occult societies and intelligence agencies is the manipulation of reality, as I've noted before here. UMMO has other curious links to Argentina, in addition to Borges. It concerns the so-called International Medical Research Facility located in Canuelas. Continuing with Vallee:
"The man who brought this remarkable development to my attention in 1979 is a dynamic South American researcher who sent me two photographs of a so-called International Medical Research Facility located in Canuelas. The first photograph showed a modern one-story building protected by a six-foot-high wire fence. Next to the building was a large flying saucer apparently made of metal and plastic, some twenty feet in diameter and twenty feet high.

"The second photograph was a plaque bearing the UMMO symbol, the inscription HONO INTELLIGENCE SERVICE -1901, and a list of fifteen names.

"Investigation into this new twist of the UMMO affair was pursued energetically. It was soon learned that the director of the facility, a man named Carlos Jerez, had disappeared without a trace. Started about 1973, the facility had been involved in various claims of cancer cures. In a letter signed by Jerez, the statement was made that such cures were achieved through 'highly sophisticated electronic equipment.' The stationary used by Jerez bears the logo of UMMO and its colors -purple and green -and a seal with the coat of arms of the State of Argentina is affixed over Jerez's signature, giving the impression that his work has received official sanction...

"Later investigation disclosed that the mysterious cancer cures made use of gamma rays, and that a number of allegedly terminal patients had been improved or even cured at the facility, whose owners claimed they came from outer space.

"The organization itself was said to have been founded in France by a grandfather of Mr. Jerez, who emigrated to Argentina in 1927, settling in Baradero. The facility received official approval for medical work with terminal patients in 1935, 1948, and 1966, but the medical system used combined impressive-sounding gadgetry with the usual claims of modern quacks: it blends gamma rays with cybernetic energy, which Jerez describes as 'the heat field which surrounds the tissues.'

"At the time the facility was closed down by the authorities, it was treating about two hundred patients with cancer or neurological disease."
(ibid, pgs. 108-109)
Vallee concludes that Jerez had no involvement in the creation of the UMMO hoax, he simply tried to attach himself to the movement, yet he never specifies when the International Medical Research Facility began affiliating itself with UMMO. If the affiliation stretches back to the 1930s, then the whole UMMO hoax must be reconsidered. This would imply that it was a long term intelligence operation that has only gradually worked its way into the public conscious. It is only now, in the twenty-first century, that especially sinister aspects are beginning to emerge. This is most notable in Bolivia amongst the so-called 'Daughters of Ummo' cult.

A Daughters of Ummo member recruiting followers

The Fortean Times reports:
"In essence, the Daughters are brainwashed into believing that the Ummites who came to Earth represent a race of superior beings who are somehow, simultaneously, both extraterrestrial entities and their own ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’. The Daughters conduct rituals worshipping the Ummites and believe they have been empowered to do their will, to prepare the planet for a new, larger invasion of Ummites in the year 2033...

"In March 1999, I received a new and totally unexpected Ummite document; this time it was from Florencia Dinovi Gutiérrez, the organisation’s apparently fearsome president. I must come to Bolivia immediately, she demanded, because I had been accepted to enter the organisation as an 'external contributor'. My research into the history of Florencia Dinovi Gutiérrez led to a mental hospital in Peru from which, some years back, a woman answering her description had absconded while being treated for millennialist obsessions and hallucinations about aliens. To check the possibility that this notorious patient might have been Gutiérrez, I spoke to Dr Horacio Torna at the hospital. He listened patiently as I described the beliefs of the Daughters of Ummo and their leader. 'It’s her,' he said hoarsely. 'It’s Juana Pordiavel!' This identification was confirmed after the doctor cautiously sent me some pages from Pordiavel’s personal file, with the condition that I wouldn’t publish them.
"Juana Pordiavel... was born in Cuzco, Peru, in 1912, to a humble peasant family. When she was 12, she left home claiming that her father had abused her. She lived rough in the streets by begging, until a Spanish priest – Hermenegildo Abustín – took pity on her condition and invited her to live in the church. This act of kindness was a major turning point in her life; Hermenegildo believed Juana had the potential to become a nun and became her tutor. In return for cleaning the church, the priest bought her books and encouraged her intellectual development. He remembers her reading biblical texts with passion and, in time, becoming more confident about her culture and language. By the time she left the church, aged 19, her belief in fundamentalist theology was informed by her general dissatisfaction with life, providing the ideal ingredients for a future sect leader.
"Pordiavel spent some time in a mental hospital in 1941 and eventually met Carlos Opanova, who, despite suffering from a few mental problems of his own, was leader of a fanatical spiritualist organisation called ‘The Deer of the Sixth Christ’. They fell in love and married. In 1963, the Deer moved to Oruro, in Bolivia, where they took over (or squatted) a building, calling it ‘The New Heavenly Jerusalem’. The group’s nocturnal ceremonies began to annoy the neighbours, who complained of hearing strange voices in the nights and of missing children. At some time during this period, Pordiavel was again interned in a mental hospital.
"When the curiosity of the police became too intrusive in 1967, the Deer fled their ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’ in scattered groups. Taking a big chunk of the organisation’s money, Juana and Carlos bought a small flat in La Paz and began to re-invent themselves. Carlos had been corresponding with the Spanish ufologist Jiménez del Oso, who sent them copies of many of the original Ummite writings – which proved to be a revelation to Opanova. Dazzled by the Ummite picture of a better world, a world that could be theirs, Opanova decided to adopt the philosophy and teachings of Ummo. From now on Opanova’s disciples would be devoted to the emulation of all things Ummite.
"And so, in 1969, the Deer finally became the Daughters of Ummo. Juana baptised herself Florencia Dinovi Gutiérrez while her husband took on the persona of ‘Yiewaka’, an Ummite ‘father’ on Earth. The sect grew beyond their wildest dreams, taking advantage of cruel social circumstances; as much as 90 per cent of its members are drawn from the poor and uneducated, many recruited directly from the streets. Apparently, the Daughters are not puzzled by the contradiction of Opanova being both Juana’s husband and an incarnate Ummite appointed as president and ‘father-in-law’ of Earth; to them it is part of the unquestioned mystery."

Florencia Dinovi Gutiérrez, the head oof the Daughters of Ummo cult

You just have to love Latin American cults with ties to Europe and/or the United States and displaying the specter of PSYOPs. I've written more on this topic here, here, and here.

Anyway, we shall return to Brazil for one final cluster of close encounters before wrapping things up. They concern mysterious crafts referred to as chupas by the local populace. These sightings began occurring in the mid-1970s and seemingly continued through the mid-1980s in the extremely rural interior of Brazil. The chupas are most notable for the deaths surrounding them.
"In recent years the most remarkable cases of UFO-related injuries and deaths have taken place in the northeast of Brazil, in a vast region that extends from the mouth of the Amazon (Belem and the island of Marajo, which is located on the equator about 300 miles from French Guiana) to Sao Luis and the town of Teresina...

"On the basis of the information gathered so far, there seem to be three major clusters of cases: around the small town of Parnarama, around Sao Luis, and around Belem.

"At least five people are said to have died near Parnarama following close encounters with what were described as boxlike UFOs equipped with powerful light beams. These objects, which have been called chupas by the local population, fly over the wooded areas and the river valleys at night...

"In most cases the witnesses reported rectangular objects (sometimes compared to ice boxes) flying over the treetops and shining a beam toward the earth. The chupas are said to make a humming sound like a refrigerator or a transformer, and this sound does not change when the object accelerates. The object does not seem large enough to contain a human pilot. It has a light on the bottom and a light at one end, giving a sealed beam like a car headlight...

"The Santana events had taken place ten years before those in Parnarama between 1972 and 1975. Objects were said to hover near the Acarau River, emitting peculiar flickering light beams with which a sensation of cold was associated. Here again, the objects were described as boxlike, similar to a VW bus. One of the firsthand witnesses stated that he had escaped the beam of light of a chupa by hiding under a tree overhanging the river...

"In recent years Bob Pratt, an American researcher, has gone to Brazil several times to investigate a series of events that took place in 1977 on Crab Island, near Sao Luis. In that case one man died and two were badly burned. Pratt reported in 1987 that similar incidents had taken place at the same location in 1986, with one man dead, another injured, and two others unconscious for 15 hours. He stated, however, that the link to UFO activity was 'tenuous' at best in both reports."
(Confrontations, Jacques Vallee, pgs. 131-136)

an alleged image of a chupa

The involvement of researcher Bob Pratt in the chupas encounters is interesting. Pratt cut his teeth in the UFO field via the National Enquirer where his work eventually gained the respect of the UFO field. The National Enquirer, like about everything else associated with UFOs, has curious links to the intelligence community, however.
"Bob Pratt later said that its publisher, Generoso Pope Jr, spent tens of thousands of dollars sending him all over the world chasing UFO stories, even though they sold fewer issues than celebrity stories. Pratt thought Pope was a genuine believer in UFOs, though others have suspected an intelligence connection. Pope spent a year being trained in psychological operations by the CIA in 1951, the year before he bought the Enquirer. He was also a close friend of Nixon's Defense Secretary, Melvin Laird."
(Mirage Men, Mark Pilkington, pg. 139)

Bob Pratt

Pratt would go on to become involved in the whole Bennewitz affair, one of the most heavily documented instances of PSYOPs in ufology. I've chronicled the sad fate Paul Bennewitz before here and here. But I digress -back to the chupas. Another region of Brazil in which they appeared is an area around the city of Belem. Incidentally (or not), a branch of the Brazilian air force charged with UFO investigations just so happened to have a branch headquartered at Belem at the time the chupas made the scene.
"The Brazilian military, which has been engaged for many years in one of the most serious investigations of the phenomenon conducted anywhere around the world, took the 1977 events around Belem very serious indeed. Starting in 1974, the Belem headquarters of the 1st Regional Air Command (COMAR), covering an area four times as large as France, maintained a UFO field investigation team...

"When the events of 1977 started in the area around Belem, the Air Force, as noted above, sent a field task force to the region, notably to the islands of Colares. Its mission lasted ninety days. The task force came back with three hundred night photographs and several motion picture reels. A five hundred-page report was compiled, accompanied by a catalogue of the sightings, maps, and interview transcripts. Copies were sent to Barreira do Inferno (the Gate of Hell) in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. Some researchers believe it ids an appropriate destination for such a report about the elusive chupas and the unfortunate human victims caught in their impossible light."
(Confrontations, Jacques Vallee, pgs.138-139)
Vallee elaborates on this mysterious report a bit later.
"There were not one but two series of photographs, movie films, and tape recordings that were made during this period. The military team, which operated in full view of the population, is known to have compiled a thick report with a wealth of physical measurements attached. The report was sent to higher authorities in Brasilia, where it presumably disappeared into a drawer.

"The second team was composed of journalists and cameramen who were almost as well equipped as the military. They obtained excellent photos, which can be consulted in the newspaper archives of that period. Unfortunately... only the negatives have scientific potential. And all the negatives taken by the newspaper teams have left Brazil, purchased from the publishers by an unnamed American firm.

"Somebody in the United States owns a collection of records that contains the proof of the reality of the phenomenon."
(ibid, pg. 225)

A chupa?

By all accounts the Belem sightings were quite spectacular. The sudden disappearance of most of the documentation gathered during the sightings is even more so. Was the cover up so swift because hard evidence was gathered of the existence of UFOs, as Vallee implies? Or was the another reason, such as the unveiling of a top secret military aircraft? If the latter was the case, the Brazilian Air Force may have provided an adequate foil. Or perhaps they were simply charged with covering up the evidence after the test were finished.

What I find most striking about the chupas is their similarities to the unmanned drones that are becoming more and more common everyday. Many will probably scoff at this notion, but I can't help but feel the chupas were a prototype of this type of technology that has now become common. Many will dismiss this theory outright because of the well documented light beam weapons the chupas were said to use. Certainly there are no official accounts of unmanned drones possessing such weapons. But then again, unmanned drones have probably existed much longer than official accounts would have us believe. The same could apply to advanced weapons.

Were the chupas possibly prototypes of unmanned drones, such this one, the MQ-1 Predator?

So, what are we to make of the UFOs of Latin America? Certainly they seem out of place in the 'nuts and bolts' world of mainstream American ufology. Were they simply a cover for advanced air crafts or medical experiments involving brainwashing? Did the Cryptocracy legitimately believe that they could contact a non-human intelligence using drugs and occult rituals and attempt such a working in Brazil and other locations? It seems likely that all three possibilities have some merit in addition to the sociological implications of how a populace would react to confrontations with an advanced intelligence. About all that can be said, when all is said and done, is that the possibilities are endless.

High strangeness indeed.

Possibly the best ever use of the Ummo symbol...


  1. The UMMO story reminds me of the Priory of Sion hoax. A paper trail of documents laid over decades, researchers sucked into following the trail. Ideas take on a life of their own....

    I'm surprised you didn't mention Project Camelot as part of this, given the Latin American focus and the involvement of psychologists and sociologists working for US government interests;

  2. Mr. Scott-

    Thank you for your comment and I'm sorry for having taken so long to respond. Yeah, Priory of Sion is an apt comparison to Ummo. I was actually not aware of Project Camelot when I wrote this blog. I'm probably due for a new UFO one at some point.