Argentina: UFOs, Declassification and the Press
By Soledad Vallejos, Diario Pagina 12 (newspaper)
Sunday, August 23, 2009
There are very few stories about strange objects in the skies these days. Fabio Zerpa’s lost his ratings. But fans say that UFOs are busier than ever. They complain at the media’s laughter, and collect signatures seeking to declassify the files on the phenomenon that – they solemnly swear – the Government is concealing...
Even when they aren’t always visible, they’re always there. And what’s more, in recent years their sightings have grown in frequency and quantity, to the point that patterns are being defined. This is what Argentinean UFO experts claim, and when asked by Pagina 12, they can do no less than reject what they are told. “Of course there are [sightings] and more of them. The problem is that the media treats this as a joke,” retorts Silvia Perez Simondini, the researcher whose efforts have resulted in the country’s only UFO Museum.
“The thermometer we employ is the press, not only here in Argentina, but around the world. And the press often only gives the news, and then various cases begin to proliferate...but the fact is that the UFO phenomenon is always present,” says the man who has spent half of his life with a name that is synonymous with the flying object phenomenon: Fabio Zerpa. Acolytes of ufology are so convinced by all this that since early June, they have been gathering signatures to request the declassification of secret documents – of whose existence they are fully convinced – from the government of Cristina Kirchner and the congress.
What supports this certainty about what has occurred, and such optimism about what is to come from the skies? For starters, there are over a thousand videos shared on YouTube, nearly half a million websites that mention sightings and share research, in both cases referring purely and exclusively to the goings-on in Argentina. In 2008, the officious records kept by national researchers gave an account of “the great wave”: 550 cases reported in twelve months. Between January and June 2009, when the progression of previous years would have suggested a decrease in sightings, 235 cases have been reported each week. Added to this is the wave of animal mutilations in various provinces.
UFOs come and go. Files endure. For a long time, Silvia Perez Simondini lived in Southern Argentina. “I went from oil well to oil well, because my husband was a petroleum engineer. I lived for eight years in Caleta Olivia, and that’s where I had an extraordinary experience – a UFO flew right over my house, all Caleta saw it. Since then, I made a formal vow to research the subject.” It was August 1968, the day that her middle child celebrated his first birthday, and she was a young woman who could not understand how “an enormous UFO could fly over her house at ten to six in the evening.” It was thus that she became involved in a subject that had interested her not at all, beyond casual conversation. “It changed my life. I found my vocation.”
Forty years later, and living since the ‘90s in Entre Rios (when the city of Victoria became a UFO hotspot), she is the founder of the Museo OVNI and one of the most active researchers in the country. Simondini is also one of the founders of the Comisión de Estudio del Fenómeno Ovni de la República Argentina (CEFORA), which following a meeting held in Victoria, set out to gather signatures throughout the country. “At first we need one hundred thousand in order that a legislator can take on our request and execute a project to present before the Legislature, allowing the declassification of our country’s UFO files. We are already beyond the thousand-signature mark. In the Southern Cone, the only ones dealing strongly with the matter are Perú and Argetnina. We are very enthusiastic, because 22 countries have already declassified [their UFO files]. This is currently underway in Brazil, and it was done in Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador. They have all disclosed what is being held in the military archives.” Simondini says that in Argentina “even the police keeps UFO files,” which undoubtedly multiplies conjectures about what may be uncovered.
Why are you asking for declassification?
We, as researchers, are in fact aware of everything, but this declassification is requested for various motives. Number one, we want people to realize that this stopped being science fiction and is now fact. Impressive things are occurring worldwide with UFOs. Secondly, it should be known that all official agencies have laboratories where this is studied. But in order to analyze the elements that we find in our field investigations, we must resort to private sources that cost a fortune. No one helps us in our research. We have no subsidies, budgets or anything. However, if files were declassified, we could have our analyses performed by university labs. Everything comes out of our pockets, even if it’s only to share it with people. It matters to us greatly that the public becomes aware of all this, because there is then the chance of reporting about things as they occur, which is not being done at the moment.
So then you say that it’s not on account of a dearth of UFOs?
No, quite the contrary. What happens is that when the media invite us, we wind up ridiculed, like circus clowns. If this was official business, no one could laugh.
What kind of information has been consigned to the records?
A lot. The public is never made aware of UFO crashes in our country, but there have been.
The glow that UFOs had in the press dimmed as the spotlights of fictional productions brightened: the progressive disappearance of sightings on news broadcasts, the press and magazines was matched by successful TV series and movies that dwelt on the alien. Simondini is thoroughly convinced that the jocose treatment of the subject matter keeps researchers away, and keeps witnesses from stating their case to the media. The key is in fiction.
Why would [the phenomenon] be displaced by the forum in which these [fictional] accounts are told?
It’s just that in recent times, the truth is being told by movies. Take a look at “La Cuenta Regresiva”. Take a look at “Witch Mountain”. All of these movies are telling the truth, but for a reason. I think that they are being used by the United States to keep from having to make an official statement about what is occurring.
What would this hidden content involve?
Well, in Cuenta Regresiva they’re explaining something scientific that’s shaken NASA at this time...the fact that there’s something happening to the sun. Just take a look at NASA’s website.
Without quite being the highly specialized information provided by the U.S. space research center, Argentinean UFO witnesses, researchers and fans have more than a corner on the Internet. This also transformed – and continued to transform – the logic of how space phenomena operate. Aside from Visión Ovni (the site created by Simondini and from which the radio show she hosts on Monday nights on www.visionovni.com.ar can be downloaded), there is also the Union de Investigadores del Fenomenos Anolmalos, a multitude of sites belonging to independent researchers, and also the digital corner belonging to the dean of the subject: www.fabiozerpa.com.ar
It is Zerpa himself who answers the phone from a location the province of Buenos Aires, where he chose to withdraw when he grew tired of city life, and from which he organizes courses, writes when he can, and devotes himself to the subject that replaced his passion for acting when he was in his thirties. He is now 80, and doesn’t mind mixing it up when asked the question:
So is it true that UFOs aren’t around anymore?
I don’t agree with that. It’s not that they aren’t seen. It’s just that the thermometer we use is the press. And the press doesn’t always give you the story. But UFOs are always present. I can give you a good example— there was a wave in 2008, and an average of two UFOs a day were reported all over Argentinean territory.
And you say that all these cases were ratified?
Yes, of course. They belong to different varieties. There have been encounters of the first kind, when a strange vehicle is seen in the atmosphere. Those were countless. We also have the famous “invisible UFOs”, which the photo camera picks up as a black dot, or a vehicle, or something in the sky. If one magnifies these images, you can see that a technological device is involved: the classic shape of two inverted soup bowls joined at their edges – which is only one of the 163 shapes adopted by these devices, which have all been catalogued and identified. These invisible UFOs are now the most frequent, and there are many witness photos because technology has progressed greatly and it has become easier. These so-called invisible UFOs have a technology that keeps the human eye from seeing them times, but a camera eye can see them. During the 2008 wave there were many encounters of the first kind, but there have also been those of the second kind, which is when the vehicle descends and leaves traces of its manifestation. At El Remanso, a neighborhood not far from where I live, tracks were left in the backyard of a house by an object that appeared at midnight. Crop circles have appeared in Salta – these are geometric circles that result from the presence of UFOs. What happens is that when such marks appear, or a light, it’s not that the object is there. It could perhaps be thousands of kilometers away from Earth.
And supposedly there were many cases recorded this year?
Ten days ago, these lights, which are beams of compacted lights, more like lasers than customary lights, were seen at Nogoyá. They were responsible for cattle mutilations.
Why do they do this?
We have a hypothesis for over thirty years – they simply do this for research purposes. This also happens, but if the press does not echo our research, the public never finds out about it. I have the impression that the media wants aliens to no longer be in the news. They don’t want to see UFOs or the traces left by one. However, it happens every day. It’s as though they’re no longer interested. I don’t know. Maybe they want a spacecraft to land at El Obelisco and have a meeting with Crisitina Kirchner.
(Translation (c) 2009, S. Corrales. Special thanks to Grupo G.A.B.I.E)