Monday, April 19, 2010

Background Report: UFOs in the Dominican Republic

Although this article has appeared elsewhere (Tim Swartz's excellent "Conspiracy Journal")it might serve as a good background paper for those readers who may be unaware of the rich history of UFO sightings and encounters with non-human creatures in the Dominican Republic, particularly in the light of the recent and spectacular sighting of an unidentified triangular craft.

UFOs Over Hispaniola
by Scott Corrales
(c) 2006

On August 29, 2005, Carlos Peña, an engineer from the Dominican Republic, witnessed an object he described as a "black UFO" flying at an estimated altitude of a thousand to three thousand meters (calculated by the object's flight between two different cloud strata). "The object was traveling from West to East and its shape was hard to describe," said the engineer in his report. "I was unable to define its shape, but I believe it was something [...] like the alleged "flying humanoids" seen in Mexico over recent months. I cannot relate it to any other object, such as balloons, birds,
airplanes, etc. on account to its very strange shape."

The sighting lasted only forty seconds, but it is possibly the only sighting of a
UFO in the Dominican Republic in recent years. Just as it is true that some countries or parts of our planet appear to be "UFO prone", there are others that remain ufologically quiet for decades after having had significant case histories involving UFO sightings and encounters and brushes with the paranormal. One of these countries is the Dominican Republic, which experienced a series of "flaps"
in the 1970s that attracted international attention, as we shall see from
the cases below.

Lost in Antiquity

UFO activity in the Dominican Republic may go as far back as the caves: The island’s early inhabitants have left us a legacy of petroglyphs to be found in the province of Sanamá, depicting unknown artifacts project rays of light and others with clearly detailed ladders coming out their hulls (anthropologists describe these depictions as ceremonial masks and representations of the “cemí” deities of the ancient Tainos, however). These images are hardly unique: Aimé Michel, one of France’s foremost UFO researchers, was prompted to believe that many of the petroglyphs found in French and Spanish caves actually depicted unknown flying objects and not “hunting traps, nets or fences”, as anthropologists would have it.

The island has also enjoyed the distinction of being at the center of a controversy which has raged since the 16th century: whether it was discovered by Columbus during his second voyage to the "New World", or if it was indeed discovered in 1480 by Alfonso Sánchez, master of the hapless caravel Atlante, who left detailed records of his exploration of the island along with a map, which may have come into the Genoese mariner's possession. But not even this controversy has come close to the contemporary furor over the strange objects reported in the skies, seas and land of the Dominican Republic.

A Decade of Intense Activity

November 1972 marked the high point of UFO and paranormal activity over the Dominican Republic. One of the most memorable cases involved the remarkable healing of a woman afflicted with cancer of the stomach following the sudden apparition of an unidentified flying object. On November 6 that year, a prayer service was held at the home Mrs. Ramona de Baez, 45, in the town of Paya on the southern coast of Hispaniola. Some ten people stood in a circle around Mrs. Baez, who lay in bed. Suddenly, one of the guests – a woman named Julia Elvira – reportedly saw a light “like a large star” through the window, approaching the house from a considerable distance until it finally came to rest upon the house, flooding it with light. This event caused a panic among those within, except for Marino Baez, who was leading the prayers. Mr. Baez reportedly “saw an angel” taking him by the hand to lead him back to the ailing Ramona’s bed. There, the luminous entity allegedly placed its hands over the patient’s abdomen, causing her to fall asleep. Five minutes later, Ramona leaped out of bed saying that she no longer felt ill. At no point did the patient ever see the entity – only Mr. Baez’s hands on her stomach and “a cold sensation in her back”. The case became widely known throughout the region, prompting researchers to contact Ramona Baez’s oncologist, Dr. Oscar Espaillat, who confirmed her condition and status, adding that the woman had never returned for further treatment.

Earlier that same year, the Dominican press had published reports on the remarkable healings carried out by Luciana Pelàez of the town of Barahona. Ms. Peláez was a fervent Catholic whose healings attracted national attention, even that of President Joaquin Balaguer, who said that Ms. Peláez was “deserving of respect and high esteem”. It is not known if the chief executive ever resorted to the healer’s cures, as has occurred with healers and other Latin American officials (Mexico’s Plutarco Elías Calles with “Niño Fidencio” and Brazil’s Jacinto Kubitschek with the world famous “Zé Arigo”). On March 29th, Ms. Pelaez held an open mass outside the city of Santo Domingo, asking those in attendance to offer prayers for the sick and cautioning that “something” might take place later that evening that should be perceived only as a “manifestation of God.”

At six thirty, the healer fell into a trance and the crowd began to weep and shout, prompting the priest celebrating the mass to interrupt the service and look to the sky: right beside the moon, there was a second “moon” rising and sinking among the clouds, emitting a yellowish glow that increased brightly before dimming once more. The religious service was only able to continue after the crowd’s level of excitement over this strange phenomenon had subsided.

Surprising encounters with humanoids were soon to follow: In September 1972, a driver near the town of Palenque in the Dominican Republic was flagged down by a trio of aliens in gray, form-fitting uniforms and with lemon-hued skins. An egg-shaped UFO was in the background, and the driver became understandably concerned for his safety. One of the aliens approached him and engaged him in perfect Spanish, telling him that he had once been as human as he was, having been rescued by the aliens from nearly drowning in the high seas ten years previously. His human name had been Freddy Miller, and he had successfully adapted to living on the aliens' home world.

The inability to get a good night’s sleep on a hot spring night managed to land Mario Garcia, a private pilot, in the pages of UFO history. At 2 o’clock in the morning on May 24, 1976, he got out of bed to breathe some fresh air on his apartment’s balcony. The presence of some strange flashes of light to the south prompted him to go back inside for his telescope, and looking through the eyepiece he was able to see an oval object with a small row of windows along its midsection. Its surface was so highly polished, García would later tell researchers, that the slightest reflected light could blind any onlooker. Setting his aviation knowledge to the matter, García said that the unidentified object was rising between fifty to one hundred feet a minute, “as though carrying a very heavy cargo” until it reached an 3000-foot altitude. At that point, it retracted its prominent landing gear and its antenna circled a number of times “as if trying to lock on to a signal or tracking device.” The unusual and science-fictionish craft vanished toward the west “at a speed incomprehensible to the human mind.”

The Robot Man

An afternoon playing with cousins and the family dog developed into a full-blown encounter with the unknown for a ten year-old boy from the village of El Fundo. He had been playing outdoors around five o’clock on the family property when the dog – a Collie – began barking frantically at one of the sheds located on the premises. From behind the wood and zinc structure emerged “a man like a robot” who ignored the canine vocalizations and began walking in a straight line, seemingly oblivious to the frightened children, who ran away and hit in the shrubbery. It was then that the ten year-old heard an unusual sound which he described as “a cavalry charge”. Turning to see what the source of the noise was, he was startled to see an orb measuring approximately three feet in diameter, painted black and surmounted by an unidentified structure, rolling along the ground. The sphere rolled away and vanished into the woods. The “robot man” meanwhile continued his slow, inexorable forward motion away from the scene, harried by the barking dog.

According to researcher Manuel Fiallo, who interviewed the protagonists, the strange entity was wearing a form-fitting outfit of black slacks and a short-sleeved red pullover that revealed “scaly lemon-green arms”. Its face appeared to lack eyes and nose, although the mouth was described as “normal-looking.”

Aliens in the Cane fields

In March 1977, Dominican GOFOS group (Grupo Observador de Fenómenos y Objetos Siderales) researched a case which had taken place in San Francisco Macorís, a farming community in the southern part of the country. In one particular instance, a couple was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by their baby's crying. When the mother went to check on her, she noticed that the entire house was bathed in a hot, greenish-blue light. The mother described it as "a buzzing lightning bolt that won't go away."

The woman's husband went outside to see the source of the mysterious light, perhaps fearing an electrical fire of some sort. He was stunned by what he saw: hovering above the palm trees at a height of some fifty feet was a disk with a large number of "grates" which emitted an array of colors, mainly red, white, blue and green. He ran back into his house as the buzzing sound increased. The heat became
unbearable as the vehicle zoomed out of sight, and the couple was left with irritated eyes and a dryness of the throat that persisted for a week. Not much was known about UFOs in the Dominican Republic at the time, and certainly not in the agricultural region of San Francisco Macorís. But that was about to change.

On the night of June 24, 1977 an anonymous witness reported seeing an enigmatic light descending slowly from the night sky to remain motionless over the sea. A tube like structure emerged from the vehicle's "hull" and absorbed seawater for a protracted period of time. The unidentified object then rose again to hover above the witness, who noticed two beings staring at him through a porthole. According to the witness, a larger vehicle absorbed this smaller craft and became lost among the stars.

The stage for the sightings moved from the Dominican Republic's eastern tip to its western border with Haiti, near the sugar-producing region on the Bay of Ocoa, in late 1977 and early 1978, with events taking a grislier turn: mutilations, accompanied by strange lights and bizarre creatures, tormented the cane-cutters of the town of Barahona, who reported that a "gigantic dog" was slaying and eating domestic animals in the dead of the night. This monstrous canine possessed above average intelligence, as it was able to open pens and cages, extracting the last drop of blood from its hapless victims, which consisted largely of cats, hens and rabbits. Local authorities dismissed any supernatural suggestions, stating that it was merely "a joke in the poorest of taste" executed by the inhabitants of this agricultural area. The fact that the locals could ill afford sacrificing their animals for the sake of a prank was deemed irrelevant.

The mutilations were closely followed by a number of "occupant" sightings as the flap reached its peak: Cone-shaped beings were seen in November 1978 by five women in Santo Domingo. Three creatures, twice the height of the tallest human, carrying lanterns on their abdomens, descended a steep hillside to surround an automobile that braked to a screeching halt. The automobile's headlights died as the witnesses heard sounds which they assumed were blows being inflicted upon the vehicle by the conical trio. Their terrified screams attracted the attention of neighbors, who came to their aid. No traces were found of the beings or of the car which they had surrounded.

In the 80's and early 90's, the Dominican Republic's UFO activity became closely linked with the incidents being reported by commercial and recreational mariners along the Mona Passage, the turbulent channel separating Hispaniola from Puerto Rico. Many illegal immigrants, braving the Passage's fierce seas in order to land on Puerto Rico's western shore, have reported seeing bizarre lights performing spectacular aerial maneuvers before plunging noiselessly into the black waters. An anonymous ship captain in the illegal immigrant trade claimed that his fishing boat, along with its human cargo, was almost capsized by the sudden emergence of a glowing craft from beneath the waves.