- Thanks to our friend and colleague Vitorio
Pacaccini, one of Brazil's most respected and fiercely dedicated UFO investigators,
for sending us these photographs of the city of Varginha and the ET statue.
Varginha, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Statue of one of the ETs Captured In Varginha
on January 21, 1996
CNI News thanks noted researcher and author Bob Pratt (email@example.com)
for providing us with this detailed overview and update on one of the world's
most intriguing close encounter cases of 1996, the alleged sighting and
military capture of several unusual humanoid creatures in the Brazilian
city of Varginha.
- Bob Pratt, whose latest book is UFO DANGER
ZONE: Terror and Death in Brazil -- What Next? (Horus House Press, 1997),
has traveled extensively in Brazil and interviewed most of the witnesses
and researchers involved in the Varginha investigation, making him probably
the top authority on this case outside of Brazil.
- Look for UFO DANGER ZONE at your local
bookstore, or order direct from Horus House Press, P.O. Box 55185, Madison,
WI 53705-8985 (phone orders 608-537-2383) for $16.95 plus $2 postage and
- CNI News also thanks Cynthia Newby Luce
for her assistance with this story.
- Varginha: Biggest UFO/ET Case Of The
90's Copyright 1997 by Bob Pratt Reproduced with permission
- The "Varginha case" in Brazil
involving the alleged capture of ETs first came to light after a humanoid
creature was reportedly spotted crouching in a vacant lot on January 20,
1996. The original investigator was Ubirajara Rodrigues, then 42, a lawyer
and university professor who had been researching UFOs since the late 1970s.
He began his investigation after hearing about the sighting several days
later. In early February, he was joined by Vitorio Pacaccini, then 32,
an export-import broker in the state capital, Belo Horizonte, 305 kilometers
to the north. Pacaccini, a ufologist since his teens, grew up in Tres Coracoes
(pronounced "Trace Core-uh-SOY-shhh"), a city 25 kilometers east
of Varginha ("Var-ZJEEN-uh"), where his widowed mother still
lives. Because his work allows him considerable free time, Pacaccini --
who also manages his family's three coffee farms -- was able to spend much
of the next eight to ten months on the investigation, although in the end
he neglected his business and had to work hard to get it going again early
- The basic story [as previously recounted
in CNI News] is that at 3:30 on the afternoon of January 20, 1996, three
young women (then 14, 16 and 22 years of age) saw a strange humanoid creature
as they were taking a shortcut through a vacant lot. It frightened them
so much they fled, running all the way to their homes one and a third kilometers
- Later, as the investigation unfolded,
Ubirajara learned that military police (the equivalent of state police
in the U.S.) had captured a creature earlier in the day in woods three
blocks away from the vacant lot, meaning there were now two creatures involved.
Then a witness told of seeing armed soldiers searching the same woods early
that afternoon, hearing three shots being fired, and then seeing two body
bags (one squirming, one still) being loaded onto an army truck.
- Around 6 P.M. that day, another creature
(possibly the one the three young women saw two and a half hours earlier)
was captured in the same area. In April, a woman saw still another creature
at the Varginha zoo. In May a motorist spotted yet another near a highway
east of Varginha; and still later a possible seventh creature was seen
in Passos, a city some distance to the north.
- Then, late in 1996, a new witness came
forward saying he had seen a UFO crash near Varginha early in January.
- Varginha is a very lively, busy city
of about 120,000 people in the south of Minas Gerais, a huge state with
thousands of cities, towns and villages, millions of people (Belo Horizonte,
the state capital, is as big as Chicago), many mines and other natural
resources and lots of industries, including a number of auto manufacturing
plants. The economy of Minas Gerais is greater than that of the country
of Chile. Varginha, 330 kilometers northwest of Rio de Janeiro, has a number
of industries but is also one of the country's leading coffee exporting
centers, and calls itself the coffee capital of Brazil. It has three hospitals
and four universities. Being in mountainous country, it is spread out over
a number of hills. Contrary to some American and Internet reports, there
are no jungles or large predatory animals within at least 1,000 miles.
The countryside is lush and green.
- In early August, 1997, I went to Brazil
for two weeks because I wanted to know more about the Varginha case. Cynthia
Luce, an American who lives in Brazil (and is a MUFON representative) and
I were in Varginha in March 1996, just two months after the incidents there
came to light, and we spent four days with Ubirajara and Pacaccini (I had
known Ubirajara since 1979 and Pacaccini since 1991); but since then I
had heard nothing firsthand about the continuing investigation.
- On this trip, Cynthia and I spent three
days in Varginha and four more in nearby Sao Lourenco, where Ubirajara
led a UFO congress, and we were able to speak to him about the case a number
of times. However, we rarely had his total undivided attention. In Varginha,
he was busy with his law practice much of the time during the day and at
night taught at one of city's universities (he's a law professor and a
lecturer in philosophy and is vice director of the university's department
of juridical sciences). However, he was able to take us to various sites
connected to the case. We also had an unplanned visit with a key witness
who is still afraid of being identified.
- We also spent about an hour with Liliane
Silva, one of the three young women whose sighting of a strange creature
on January 20, 1996, triggered the Varginha investigation. We had talked
with Liliane, her sister Valquiria and Katia, the third woman, at length
at the Silva home in March 1996. This time we questioned Liliane mainly
about the mysterious nighttime visit by four men who tried to get her and
her sister to publicly deny their story, as recounted below.
- I came home from Brazil more convinced
than ever that the Varginha case is a valid and strong one.
- Many of the main incidents in the case
occurred in or near woods that separate the Jardim Andere and Santana districts
about two kilometers east of the downtown Varginha area. The woods run
a bit more than a kilometer north and south, following a small stream,
and are 200 to 300 meters wide east and west. An east-west street connecting
Jardim Andere and Santana bisects the woods. A single set of railroad tracks
runs through the area and skirts the western edge of the woods.
- Following are some of the details we
were given in August, mostly by Ubirajara:
- In Pacaccini's November 1996 [Portuguese
language] book about the case, "Incidente em Varginha," he said
an unidentified Brazilian Air Force officer told him confidentially that
NORAD had tracked one or more UFOs in the skies over Minas Gerais, heading
toward the Varginha area, and notified Brazilian authorities. They in turn
alerted a big army base at Tres Coracoes, just east of Varginha. According
to Ubirajara, the date was January 13, 1996, but what time of day or night
is not known.
- That same day, January 13, after the
sun came up -- according to Claudeir Covo, a ufologist from Sao Paulo,
and Ubirajara -- an ultralight pilot named Carlos Souza was driving north
from Sao Paulo on the highway to Belo Horizonte. About 8 a.m. he was about
five kilometers south of the Varginha-Tres Coracoes highway intersection
(itself about 15 kilometers from Varginha) when he heard a strange noise.
He thought something was wrong with his pickup truck and stopped. When
he got out, he realized the noise was coming from a cigar-shaped craft
about 120 meters in the air not far away and off to the left side of the
highway. It had windows along the side and what appeared to be a big jagged
hole in the front, a long "crack" running back to the middle
of the craft, and smoke or vapor coming out of the "crack." It
was moving to the north.
- Souza jumped in his pickup and followed
the UFO. It crossed over to the right (east) side of the highway and eventually
passed over some small mountains, then went into a steep dive and disappeared.
Souza thought it had crashed and desperately searched for a road that would
lead him to the area. After about 20 to 30 minutes, he found a dirt road
and turned onto it.
- A few minutes later he came over the
crest of a hill and saw wreckage spread over a wide area -- as well as
about 40 armed soldiers, two trucks, a helicopter, an ambulance and several
cars. (The site is close to Tres Coracoes, where the army base is located.)
Souza stopped and was able to pick up a piece of very light material that
floated to the ground when he dropped it, but soldiers with rifles rushed
toward him and ordered him to leave immediately.
- He was so shocked by that he abandoned
his trip and headed back toward Sao Paulo. After a few minutes he stopped
at a restaurant to think about what he'd seen. He was still there two hours
later when a car drove up with two men in civilian clothes but military
haircuts and bearing. One came up to him, asked if his name was Carlos
Souza, then told him much personal information about him (all quickly available
by police computer once a license number is known) and warned him not to
talk about what he'd seen.
- A 20-year military dictatorship ended
in Brazil only a few years ago, and Souza was frightened. Several members
of his family "disappeared" during the dictatorship, so he kept
quiet, telling no one other than his wife and two close friends. He was
not aware of what had happened in Varginha until seven or eight months
later when he saw a magazine article in Sao Paulo by Claudeir Covo. He
contacted Covo, who eventually persuaded him to return to Varginha with
him and Ubirajara to show them where he had seen the wreckage.
- All during the week of January 13-20,
the investigators learned, there was a lot of military movement throughout
the entire Tres Coracoes-Varginha area -- armed troops in trucks and other
vehicles from the army base.
- Then, shortly after 1:00 a.m. on January
20, a farm couple living ten kilometers east of Varginha were awakened
by stampeding cattle and saw the "submarine" or cigar-shaped
object, with smoke or vapor coming out of it, moving slowly about five
meters above the ground. According to Ubirajara, the object was moving
so slowly it took 45 minutes to pass out of sight over a ridge just a few
hundred meters away. Claudeir Covo thinks the couple may have been mistaken
about the date and may actually have seen the UFO a week earlier, on January
13 instead of January 20 -- the same object that Souza saw. However, we
never had a chance to talk to Ubirajara further about this.
- The next action occurred around 8 or
8:30 a.m. on January 20 when the Varginha Fire Department received a call
that a wild animal had been spotted near the woods in the Jardim Andere
district. In Brazil, firemen (all members of the Military Police) are responsible
for capturing mad dogs, wild animals, dangerous snakes and so on. Four
firemen responded in a fire truck. They found five civilians -- a man and
a woman and three boys 12 to 14 years of age, all passersby -- at the scene,
watching a creature that had gone down a steep embankment toward the woods.
The boys had been throwing stones at it to get a reaction from it, but
the woman made them to stop.
- The firemen immediately told all five
to leave and then went down the bank, crossed over the railroad tracks
and entered the woods in search of the creature. Varginha is very hilly
with few level areas. From where the truck was parked on the closest street
to the woods is about 100 meters and it is a very steep incline, dropping
a good 50 meters. A ragged path runs down the length of it. Near the bottom
is a railroad cut. Anyone using the path must slip and slide down to the
tracks, cross them and then scramble about five meters up the other side
of the cut, where the path continues, goes through an old fence and enter
the woods. It is a treacherous path and coming back up is even more of
a struggle (I know). Anyone carrying anything up or down the bank has a
- It took the firemen two hours to capture
the creature, partly because it kept running away from them in the dense
bushes, and partly perhaps because they were afraid of whatever it was.
Some reports claim it gave off a strong offensive odor.
- I myself went into the woods and it is
easy to see why the creature was able to elude them for so long. You can't
see very far and the footing is tricky. I could hear cars and trucks all
the time but never saw them. And it is rough, uneven terrain, all up and
down with almost no flat areas.
- Apparently at some time during the search,
one of the firemen returned to the truck and radioed his commander, told
him what was happening and asked him to join them. By the time the creature
was finally captured and carried back up that long hill, the commander
had arrived -- as had an army truck with two officers and a sergeant (possibly
notified by the fire commander). The creature was handed over to the army
men with little or no discussion and everyone left.
- About 2 o'clock that afternoon, a jogger
saw seven armed soldiers cross a small footbridge from the Santana district
into a huge pasture immediately south of the woods. The bridge is at the
bottom of a long sloping hill leading up across the pasture to the railroad
tracks and, higher up, the street where the fire truck had parked that
morning. Two of the seven soldiers were carrying what appeared to be automatic
rifles and all were wearing side arms. From the footbridge to the street
above the woods is at least 600 meters, maybe more. The jogger had intended
to take a short cut across the bridge but decided not to because of the
soldiers. The soldiers walked up the hill and inspected a small grove of
trees near the railroad tracks, found nothing and then moved back toward
the big woods, fanning out in a broad V formation.
- The jogger saw them enter the woods.
The witness continued jogging and then turned east into the street that
bisects the woods, heading toward the Santana district. A minute or two
later the witness heard three distinct shots -- Pow! Pow! Pow! -- as if
from a rifle, became curious and jogged back three or four blocks to the
street overlooking the woods. By now an army truck was parked there (about
where the fire truck had been earlier) and the witness could see four of
the soldiers struggling up the long steep bank with two bags, two soldiers
to each bag. One bag was squirming as if something live was in it, but
the other had no movement. Other soldiers were inside the truck. The bags
were heaved into the truck and the truck sped away.
- Neither the witness nor the investigators
know what was in the bags, but it would seem safe to assume it wouldn't
take seven armed soldiers to capture a wild animal when four firemen without
weapons had captured a decidedly unusual creature in the same woods earlier
in the day.
- At dusk that afternoon, around 6 p.m.,
a short but violent hailstorm (quite unusual for that time of the year)
hit Varginha, breaking windows, windshields and causing other damage --
and wiping out any prints or traces of the creature the three young women
had seen. During the unexpected storm, two military policemen spotted yet
another creature (possibly the one the three young women had seen) in the
Santana-Jardim Andere area not far from the woods, were able to grab it
and put it in the back of their vehicle.
- Either during or just after the storm,
one of the officers, a man in his 20s, stopped by his mother's house soaked
to the skin from the rain, told her he would be working all night and asked
her to tell his wife he wouldn't be home for dinner. He changed clothes
- This same officer became very sick some
days later with an unusual infection, did not respond to treatment and
died on February 15. His family is convinced he was involved in the capture
of the second creature and reportedly sued the military police because
the cause of his death was never explained, the results of any autopsy
were never revealed and allegedly his official records were altered to
state that he wasn't even on duty that night.
- One night early in May, four men dressed
in dark suits and ties knocked on the front door of the Silva home. The
two sisters, Liliane and Valquiria, and their mother, Luiza, were asleep
(other members of the family were working or at school). Mrs. Silva thought
the men were associated with Ubirajara, but they turned out to be strangers.
By the time she realized that, the men had gently pushed their way into
the house and insisted on talking to the two sisters. All gathered in the
small living room, the girls and mother on one sofa, the four men on another
opposite them. One man was about 50, the others in their early 30s. They
were polite but businesslike. Only the older man and one of the others
talked. The men never identified themselves but spent more than an hour
trying to persuade the girls to change their story and even implied they
would be paid if they made their denials publicly on television. Afraid
to object, Luiza said they would think it over. The men finally left but
told them not to follow them to try to see what kind of car they were driving.
They were never seen again; and the girls did not withdraw their story.
- During 1997 there have been reports on
the Internet that the girls were charging $200 for an interview. Liliane
appeared shocked and surprised when I asked her if that was true. She emphatically
- In April (1996), a middle-aged woman
sitting by herself on the dark verandah of a restaurant at the zoo as she
smoked a cigarette after dining saw a strange creature looking at her over
a railing a few meters away.
- One night in May, a university student
driving on the Varginha-Tres Coracoes highway spotted a creature that had
started to cross the highway. It was so strange looking that it was frightening.
It darted back into the bushes when it saw the car. Later, when investigators
took the student back to the site, they realized it was right next to the
farm where the couple had seen the UFO in January.
- Finally, in November, Spanish ufologist
and writer J.J. Benitez, whose books are published in Brazil, infuriated
virtually all Brazilian UFO investigators when (according to Ubirajara,
Pacaccini and others) he made a quickie six-hour visit to Varginha without
contacting any of the investigators or witnesses, found three holes in
a triangular pattern in the pasture near the woods, then returned to Sao
Paulo, called a press conference and announced he and he alone had found
landing marks made by the UFO that brought the creatures to Varginha --
something that none of the Brazilians had been able to do.
- I know of Benitez' statements only second-hand.
But during my recent visit to Varginha, Ubirajara showed Cynthia Luce and
me the three holes that Benitez found. They are in the pasture 75 to 100
meters from the edge of the woods, are spaced out unevenly (roughly 28
by 30 by 25 feet) over a steep part surrounded by more level areas and
are next to a tree that Benitez said was dead. Ubirajara says that, at
his request, a physicist and an agronomist examined the three holes. Their
conclusion, written up in a report (Ubirajara said), was that two of the
holes had been dug by a post-hole digger, with the excavated piles of dirt,
long since nearly washed away by rains, lying next to them. And the third
hole was an ant hill that had collapsed and sunk in upon itself. Benitez
also reported finding desiccated insects inside the triangle made by the
holes, but Ubirajara's scientists said desiccated insects are found all
over the pasture.
- The "dead" tree was very much
alive when we saw it in August, and the third hole looked very different
from the other two, which did look like post holes. All three were located
on one of the steepest parts of the pasture, perhaps the most difficult
spot to be found in the area if a UFO had landed there as Benitez claimed.
It has been nearly a year since he visited Varginha, but the mere mention
of his name still brings an angry reaction from Brazilian ufologists.
- The only real sour note in the Varginha
case is that the two main investigators -- Ubirajara and Pacaccini -- fell
out badly some time ago over reasons that had nothing to do with the case
itself. The animosity is very real, and I don't know if they'll ever talk
to each other again.
- Pacaccini is writing a book in English
and Ubirajara wants to do a book in English. Cynthia Luce and I have tried
to persuade the two of them to work together to produce the only definitive
book possible. Each knows things the other doesn't. Each has access to
witnesses that the other doesn't.
- Varginha, I believe, is a good, solid
case. But the rancor and bitterness between Ubirajara and Pacaccini could
turn it into another Roswell-like quagmire. Our fear is that eventually
there will be Pacaccini's book, Ubirajara's book and God knows how many
other versions, as has happened in Roswell, and no one will really know
what happened at Varginha.
- [CNI News comments: Given the potential
importance of the Varginha case, and the excellent investigatory work so
far accomplished by Ubirajara and Pacaccini, we join Bob Pratt in calling
for a mending of fences and renewed cooperation between these two researchers,
so that the world can be given the clearest possible picture of what really
happened in Varginha. Meanwhile, thanks again to Bob Pratt for the foregoing