Argentina: Phantom Humanoids in the Cordillera (1981)
Argentina: Phantom Humanoids in the Cordillera (1981)
By Carlos Daniel Ferguson
(appearing in UFO Press #24, November 1986)
17 February 1981, Manzano Amargo, Neuquén
Phantom Humanoids in the Cordillera?
During the year 1981, at least in Argentina and without confirming greater variation over successive years, reports on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (according to the Hynek classification) have not been abundant. Nor were there many “on site” surveys on such cases published in this magazine since that time. Carlos Ferguson, the author of this article, made known an original report of his investigation in the magazine he previously worked for – the esotericist monthly “Cuarta Dimensión”. Dissatisfied with that initial version of the facts, which lacked basic information (such as the story of José Albornoz himself, the main protagonist of the event), Ferguson now gives us this second version, which replaces the earlier one and gives us a more detailed notion about the strange incident at Manzano Amargo, a town located on the Andean Range, 3700 meters above sea level. With this article, Carlos Ferguson becomes part of our publication’s regular staff.
The results of the investigation presented below stem from the information collected following a visit to the town of Manzano Amargo shortly after (some 20 days later) the event that gave rise to our interest.
It was necessary to take on a challenge, since practically the only prior information in existence was a newspaper clipping that read:
GENERAL ROCA (C.) – The “Rio Negro” daily of this locality informed its readers yesterday that reports from the Manzano Amargo wilderness suggest that a UFO landed in the area, and that two tall beings descended from it, inviting local inhabitants and a girl to board their flying saucer before taking off upon hearing the child’s screams. The UFO had colored lights…” (sic)
It is not my intention to bore the readers with the background of the investigation. It should suffice to note that nothing pointed to an easy investigation: the area was inaccessible, with a lack of suitable transportation which led to hitchhiking or horseback riding. On the other hand, the first news items of the event became known through the radio and a simple and sensationalist newsclipping that afforded little certainty.
The fact is that it did not turn out to be a heroic feat (many researchers would have done a similar study) but an ardous journey was involved to reach the place where the events transpired aboard a pickup truck that very nearly went over the steep cliffs of the Cordillera, a horse that went up and down trails as wide as a fist and other details not worth mentioning, as the last thing the author wants is to become a “UFO martyr” while still alive.
Before sharing the most complete version published heretofore regarding the Manzano Amargo episode with readers of UFO PRESS, I would like to give thanks for the assistance provided by the Intendent of Chos-Malal, the police and gendarmerie of that community, and the countless residents of Zapala, Vavardo and Chos-Malal who made this work possible by granting us lodging in schools and commissariats, and not precisely under the auspices of the organization I represented at that time.
The Witness and His Environment
The town of Manzano Amargo is 526 kilometers to the northwest of the Province of Neuquén, basically on the border with Chile and at an elevation of 3,700 meters in the middle of the Andean Range. Several UFO sightings took place in 1980 in this region, involving two significant witnesses, such as the former Indentent of Chos-Malal, Mr. Stanley Izaguirre, who cordially welcomed me to his office to tell me about the event he witnessed along with dozens of witnesses. They beheld a UFO that dazzled them with its lights and illuminated the Cordillera as if it were daytime.
One of the most interesting interviews, without question, was the one with teacher Luis Recia of Escuela 253, in the town of Manzano Amargo, which provides inestimable asstance to the humble residents of the region. It can be said of Luis Recia that he is the confidant of the local population, which includes the main witness himself, José Fermin Albornoz. The schoolteacher was the first person to hear Albornoz’s strange story. The questions answered by Recia to this interviewer suggested an intimate knowledge of Albornoz. His opinion of the case was an unequivocal assertion:
“What José is saying is based on actual fact, as people –at least people around here, in general – don’t have an intellect that’s sufficiently developed to imagine such things.” I was fully able to corroborate the rural schoolmaster’s statement, not only because Albornoz was not benefitting from making his story known, but because he was, in fact, a person of very limited education. A plain, humble rural man practically free from the contaminating effects of the communication media.
José Fermín Albornoz (age 43, information he only found out when visiting the registrar of births for his identification papers) is a cattleman, married, has seven children and knows no lands beyond Neuquén. The humble cattleman’s story was confirmed others who know him well, as well as the Police and the rural Gendarmerie and the aforementioned Intendant Izaguirre: “You can be fully certain that what Albornoz said was the truth.”
According to this interviewer, José repeats his story time and again without contradicting himself.
I admit that I was highly mistrustful, but was unable to detect any incoherences or gaps in his story. At all times, he answered my questions and had no objections in accompanying me to the sighting location, a stretch that links Manzano Amargo to a “step” in the Cordilleras, an hour and half distant from town on horseback.
Albornoz was startled to learn that the news had transcended the borders of his county. He expected no visitors. It is, in fact, a firsthand report.
On the evening of February 17, 1981, José Albornoz was on his way to La Veraneada, a step in the Cordillera where he looked after a herd of sheep, fenced in a pen, with the aid of two companions. After a quick dinner past nightfall, the three men decided to go to sleep. For this purpose there is a sort of shelter that is almost exposed to the elements near the pen. It is built out of wood and roofed with straw and mud. Around four o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, 18 February, José woke up alarmed by a sudden disturbance along the animals (the penned-in sheep were joined by horses and some dogs). At no time was a girl present in the group, as was incorrectly reported.
José propped himself up on his right hadn and was able to make out a circular sky-blue light some 20 meters away from his location. The luminous circle had an estimated size of 2 or 3 meters in circumference and was suspended some 40 centimeters over the ground. Albornoz then summoned his companion, who did not pay much attention to José’s exlamations and chose to hide by covering himself under some blankets. Albornoz says it was during these first moments that he felt a loud buzzing sound over his head. “It came from above,” he asserts. While the noise appeared to overwhelm everything, José Fermin had “the impression that the ground shook.” At that moment, all of a sudden, two humanoid figures appeared before him, standing more or less 1.10 meters tall.
These entities remained motionless for a few seconds barely two meters away from the shelter, nearly at Albornoz’s feet. They said “something” in an incomprehensible language before vanishing as quickly as they had appeared. José Fermín explains that his only thoughts at the moment were of his family, given the shock produced by the vision: “Dear Lord, it’s the end of the world and I’m not with my family,” he reportedly exclaimed upon witnessing the phenomenon before him.
His pulse quickened, he felt himself growing weak and falling to his side, recovering in a matter of seconds only to see his friend (who did not see the humanoids) watching the luminous sphere vanishing into the west while the animals kept making noise. José’s companion could not be interviewed by the author (it was said in the town that he had suffered such a severe emotional shock that he was unwilling to discuss his experience with anyone).
• The luminous sphere irradiated slight heat and did not split at the ends.
• The figures had a corpulent physical build despite their short stature. They were two large-headed humanoid silhouettes, their heads out of proportion with the rest of their bodies, with broad shoulders. They remained completely motionless at all time.
• Albornoz did not see any facial features (perhaps due to the entities being backlighted?)
• He did not notice any details about their hands or feet, but he did say “they had something on their heads, like a sort of helmet.”
• The little men wore full-length divers’ suits, form-fitting and dark blue.
• The buzzing he felt at the start of the event was similar to that of a motor in operation.
• Albornoz calculates the total duration of his experience in a minute or slightly less.
• Despite the scarcity of details provided by Albornoz, there are no contradictions between what he told the police and this interviewer.
This is the first time that Albornoz’s brief but enlightening story has been published, lifted verbatim from the report made by this author. This segment of the interview took place without any interference by the interviwer, as José expressed himself freely, without assistance, in his own words and disclosing the details which may be the most important ones of the case:
“I’d gone to bed early that night. At around one in the morning I looked in on my horse, and then went to bed once more. Shortly after, I heard the cows mooing and the horses whinnying, and no sooner did I uncover myself…did I see that light…nearby. When I saw that light I called out to the other fellow, saying: “Hey, what’s going on…” [but] he screamed and covered his head under the blanket…hiding behind me. There was a strange buzzing sound coming from above, and two people appeared…just like that…all of a sudden! (he makes a gesture that could be illustrated by the appearance of an image on a TV screen). I don’t know where they came from, they just did it…they appeared…I didn’t understand what they told me, but they did speak to me…and when they spoke, that’s when I told them: “Dear Lord, the world’s ending and I’m not with my family and my children.” And that’s when I lost control and was out of courage…I wanted to run off to where the others were, but my heart was beating too fast…I passed out from fear…they (the beings) were smallish and their outfits were dark blue…they stood side by side, next to each other. I wasn’t able to make out their faces, I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t brave enough or because…I was shaking from fear. The light was a lovely light…bluish, clear. A beautiful light. I don’t know what it was because I don’t study. I don’t know how to read, so I don’t know what these things might be. Could you tell me what it was I saw?”
In my humble opinion, the only thing that can be argued to invalidate this case is a confusion with a known phenomenon, since the possibility of the witness having concocted a fantastic story has been dismissed, as he lacked the essential information, something that would also apply in the case of a hoax, for which he lacks any true motives. However, the details provided by the witness serve not to validate a conventional explanation, as its strangeness is such that it cannot be compared with any known phenomenon whatsoever.
It should be noted that it was Albornoz himself who replied that no physical evidence of the sighting was left behind.
The case meets several interesting characteristics, from my perspective: emotional effects in the witness, unusual nervousness in the animals, a protagonist who enjoyed a good reputation and was a “virgin” – if I may say so – when it came to external influences and information. Moreover, I think that the data collected are a significant find, and obtained in a timely manner: Albornoz told me he had received a visit prior to mine: “The newspapermen told me that when those people spoke to me, they were inviting me to come aboard the light, but I didn’t understand.” Adding to the chaos that the press could have caused, we can add the usual errors of information, such as the presence of a girl who was never there, the changing sizes of the humanoids (sometimes “very tall”, sometimes “60 centimeters) aside from the information being fed to the witness.
On a separate issue, I have compared the humanoid images observed by Albornoz with those of the “Barrancas Case” (Santa Fe, 19 June 1980), the “Las Salinas Case” (Tucumán, 10 October 1978) and the “Faimallá Case” (Tucumán, 7 October 1978) and not only do they coincide in their appearance, but in 3 out of 4 cases, the disappearance of the entities is spontaneous. The small figures have appeared assiduously during this last decade, to the contrary of what happened in the 1960s.
This, at least, is what we glean from the statistics obtained by CEFU, an effort aimed at continuing the work pioneered by Dr. Oscar Galíndez and Oscar Uriondo. Another loose end regarding animal behavior should be noted: Albornoz and his co-workers too three days to round up all the animals that escaped that night.
With regard to the behavior of the beings, they might coincide with the “B” category according to Henry Durrant and Pierre Ensía. Regarding the entities’ manifestation, Antonio Ribera believes that it was “an insubstantial tele-projection or hologram from a technology unknown to us.” There are several cases with these characteristics, such as the famous Almonaster La Real case in Spain.
It isn’t easy to prove that José Fermín Albornoz’s experience was “real” in the empirical sense, but it cannot be said that the lack of prints places the case in negative territory. Should it be positive, as I believe it is, this would be the first Close Encounter of the Third Kind to occur at such a high elevation.
Prof. Oscar Uriondo has also ventured his opinion on a number of “projections” in certain UFO cases: “I can objectively say that the anthropomorphic beings linked to UFO manifestations are sometimes goverened (in a small percentage of the sightings in this sub-category) by standards of behavior that are equal or analogous to those of ghostly images.”
[Translation (c) 2014 Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology, with thanks to Carlos Ferguson]