UMMO AT BAY: Jose Luis Jordan Peña Discusses the Greatest UFO Hoax of the 20th Century
Interview by David Cuevas and Victor Ortega, Transcribed by Felix Armengol
Interviewers: If we're talking about paranormal hoaxes, and you had to name one, we imagine that it would be one that you yourself had looked into. Which would you choose?
Jordan Pena: Well, I'd pick UMMO. But it's not a hoax! It's not a hoax because I cautioned many times throughout all the reports that people shouldn't believe me. That they shouldn't believe a single word of it. That's why I say it's not a hoax, like in the Jules Verne novels.
In: What would be the particular highlights of this case?
JP: Well...see...look here: UMMO was in fact aimed at a semi-elite crowd. Lawyers, engineers, physicists, doctors and biologists.
In: Don Jose Luis, a lot has been written about UMMO, and the conclusion was reached that those letters, sent to a bunch of personalities, scientists and even policemen from the 1960s in Spain, were letters signed under the identity of beings from the planet...
JP: Extraterrestrials, aliens...
In: Exactly, from the planet UMMO itself. The fact is that much was written about that. We even recall that the "aliens" themselves would make phone calls to radio shows and [would agree] to brief interviews. Much has been written, and in the end the conclusion has been reached that it was all some sort of sociological experiment...or a hoax.
JP: Yes indeed. A social experiment to test individuals of a scientific background. And there were many "victims", victims in quotes, due to the fact that they believed it all.
In: Jose Luis, from our point of view, the entire UMMO hoax represents a set up that I cannot believe you managed all by yourself. Did you have any help?
JP: Three UFO landing marks were seen in Aluche. They even had some radioactive substances. The radioactives were provided by some friends, yes.
In: you remarked that it was a sociological experiment, but there was a ufologist - the very first ufologist in Spain, as we understand - Oscar Rey Brea, who through some allegedly true photographs, managed to prove they were fakes.
JP: Yes, they were fake.
In: They had been shot with a tripod and..
JP: Of course, of course. He was one of the few ufologists who realized it.
In: That's what's interesting. That at a social level, everyone believed in the UMMO phenomenon, but the persons who should have believed, that is, certain ufologists, were the most skeptical.
JP: They were the ones who doubted. But not all ufologists. Some doubted or realized the fraud. The UFO phenomenon, the OVNI phenomenon, Unidentified Flying Objects, it's all a hoax. Ufologists do not realize that 100% of all these cases are hoaxes.
In: But how...how could you prove that, Jose Luis? A man with as much mileage as you have?
JP: Just a moment. I'm not proving anything; science proves it. Science runs away from the subject. For example, a scientist like Sagan...laughs it off. There are no serious scientists - none - who believe in ufology. The studies of Dr. Edward U Condon, an American scientist, demystified the UFO phenomenon.
In: Saying they could be atmospheric phenomena.
JP: Atmospheric phenomena, globe lightning, missile explosions or weather balloons.
In: The fact is that science doesn't want to look into anything called "paranormal".
JP: Excuse me - science investigates. Look...there have been exhaustive studies. We have four million UFO accounts. None - I repeat, none - has been proven in spite of the vast amount. We have four million reports, all right? Not a single one has crossed the borders of science.
In: It's a really interesting opinion. The fact is that UFOs, that is, unidentified flying objects, are there. Whether they come from elsewhere...is something that hasn't been proven to date. That's evidence...
JP: Just a minute, just a minute...unidentified flying objects exist. Of course they exist! An airplane at 10 kilometers is an unidentified object.
In: Yes, of course, until the contrary can be proven...
JP: I am a complete skeptic and I defend those who believe. I defend those who believe in UFOs and those who believe in the paranormal. One thing is for me not to believe, and another to know that people need to believe.
In: Yes, in a way you perhaps tried to do this with the UMMO hoax, isn't that right, Jose Luis?
JP: Of course. But that's why say [people] should exercise caution. We have people like Benitez, Juanjo Benitez, a good friend of mine who believes in UFOS. And who believes in UMMO! Of course, he has the right (...) and I congratulate them for their belief. For their belief and their faith. I sincerely congratulate them. Up to now I have yet to find a scientific basis to any phenomenon, but if there was something that could prove a phenomenon, I would of course believe.
In: Do you, Jose Luis Jordan Peña, believe that the UMMO phenomenon escaped from your control and in a certain way, much harm could've come to people who believed it to the end?
JP: Yes, absolutely. My statements saying that it was false, that UMMO was a fallacy, [came about] when I learned that the "Edelweiss" sect had caused some children harm by branding them with the UMMO emblem. Unfortunately, there is no belief that can be considered entirely harmless. In fact, it has harmed some people. I'd say only a few, but yes, it has harmed them.
P: Do you regret having staged the UMMO hoax?
JP: I do not regret having started it. I regret having made the truth known. Let's see. You have some kids. And you give the kids presents for Three Kings Day, or from Santa Claus if you're in North America. What a delight it is to see the joy of those children who believe in Santa Claus or the Three Kings! Now imagine that an older kid comes along - a jerk, because you'd have to be one - who tells them: "Don't believe it! It's your parents who give you presents! There are no Three Kings or Santa Claus!" It's downright brutal, isn't it?
In: If you had to organize this subject again, would you do it as before or would you change some details?
JP: No,no. I'm sure that I would never dare again. We have detected a number of misadventures suffered by innocent people. That's ungodly.
In: But that has occurred in the world of religions and in the music world as well. There are always people who cross the limit.
JP: True. The UMMO case has not caused wholesale harm. On the contrary, [many] have benefited from the knowledge we have conveyed in the reports. But there are a small number of people who've been affected...
In: Yes, the illusions of many people were toyed with after believing in such a strange and controversial matter as UMMO. And to close the subject, Jose Luis, we have always had this question and we've always wanted to ask you: Were you ever aided by any official agency when it came to setting up [the UMMO affair]?
JP: Let's see here...you're asking me a very sensitive question. I can already say that no Spanish government agency helped me. CSED, for example, the information service of the old CESID. There was no help from Spanish officialdom, but the question extends to other countries, and I would sooner remain silent.
In: In closing, we'd like to ask you over a phenomenon that's all the rage and which you researched from the outset. What's your first thought whenever I mention Belmez de la Moraleda?
JP: Ahh, well...that was a heroic effort by Maria Gomez de Camara, who passed away. In the kitchen of her living room (sic), a living room measuring two point eighty meters by two point eighty meters, some faces did appear. Yes. What we learned was that their origin wasn't paranormal, but the believe in the Otherworld is so widespread that it's hard to refute it. People believe, and it's useless to devote scientific reasoning to the matter.