How Uruguay’s "Area 51" Responds to UFO Reports
By Scott Corrales
Inexplicata-The Journal of Hispanic UFOlogy
UFO Digest Latin America Correspondent
Source: El Observador
By Sebastián Amaya
Uruguay: Thirty-two years ago, the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU) created the Comisión Receptora e Investigadora de Denuncias de Objetos Voladores No Identificados (CRIDOVNI – Commission for the Intake and Investigation of Unidentified Flying Object Reports), making it the first Latin American country to have an agency devoted to researching this phenomenon.
It came about as a result of the number of reports on UFO sightings received in the 1970s. Currently, with new technologies, the Commission continues receiving images and complaints, such as the one that occurred recently in Durazno.
In order to learn the protocol followed when a UFO report is received in Uruguay, El Observador newspaper consulted Col. Ariel Sanchez, president of CRIDOVNI, at the office that carries out tasks that resemble those performed by the legendary “Area 51” in the United States.
UFO Does Not Mean Extraterrestrial
With the appearance of digital cameras and cell-phones, CRIDOVNI receives several photos a month from citizens who report having captured UFOs in their pictures. “They send us many digital photos. When they transfer them to their PCs and see a little spot, they associate it with aliens when in fact it was an insect or a bird,” said Sanchez, giving the example of the photo taken when the Uruguayan football team returned home after the World Cup.
After performing an investigation, it was determined that the image did not show a UFO. It took a visit to the scene of the events (Avenida Del Libertador) to ascertain the formation of wind tunnels in the area, which cause a considerable number of plastic bags to take flight.
Cases such as this are legion. CRIDOVNI has a mechanism for eliminating possibilities, among which the extraterrestrial alternative is the very last option. “People translate UFO into extraterrestrial, and we endeavor to inculcate that the acronym stands for an object that flies and cannot be identified. But a number of things must be eliminated before considering the final alternative.”
When a photo or record is received, an investigation process takes place. “To us, the photo loses value if the witness saw nothing at all and has just found them on his or her computer. This opens a vast array of possibilities, which can range from an insect to a camera defect.”
CRIDOVNI has an evaluation table that has been in use for several years, one that stresses “the level of strangeness, the eyewitness account and the psychological profile of the person” who reports the case, remarked the colonel. “What the witness actually saw is the most valuable thing to us. The photo or video are secondary and may have supporting value or not when [the witness] testifies to the sighting.”
“We call it the UFO phenomenon because the phenomenon is not only the object that was seen or that can be photographed, but everything that surrounds it, such as the press that goes after the story and the witness who presents the report,” said Sanchez.
FAU monitors Uruguayan air space. “Today more than ever, with the radar systems we employ, we try to make sure they aren’t drug or illegal weapon smugglers. Moreover, we also keep track to act in cases involving aircraft in a communications blackout mode, possibly caused by some illegal agent aboard who has kidnapped the aircraft,” explained CRIDOVNI’s president.
Several items must be cleared before a phenomenon can be deemed extraterrestrial: aircraft, weather events, astronomical phenomena, space junk, low-atmosphere physical phenomena, even military maneuvers such as those that use flares.
Furthermore, even radars sometimes capture unidentified flying objects that turn out to be planes who’ve lost contact with radar stations. There are also unidentified aircraft that try to remain unidentified to engage in illicit activities.
Other possible UFOs include eucalyptus forests in upland areas that may be picked up by radars due to some atmospheric alteration, as may also occur with buildings or metallic roofs. Other “deceptions” include “clutter losses” formed by data exchange problems between the radar systems’ computer protocols, simulating the on-screen existence of something that isn’t there.
“There are many hypotheses and at the end we come to the extraterrestrial subject. This has the least support, as there is no evidence of any kind about this possibility,” Sanchez stressed.
However, the colonel acknowledged that there have been cases that do not respond to any of these phenomena, which are classified as UFOS. “They have been seen, and we have been able to corroborate through radar that they were there when the witness saw them. They have even been photographers, which enables us to complete the photo-radar-witness circle, which is a rather important fact to research”.
“These are the UFO cases that we have been unable to determine. We are working with a couple of situations in Montevideo that are under investigation,” he noted.
“People still don’t have an understanding of the heavens, or are able to identify many things flying over us and which we cannot see,” said Sanchez, who understands that there is “disinformation” about UFOs.
“Over time, it has been a subject that has been handled more by the communications media, movies, the press and books, which have placed added value on the subject because it captivates peoples and sells well,” he remarked, adding: “the phenomenon exists and manifests itself in the sky. Broadly speaking, it is a luminous phenomenon that has been reported by pilots and air traffic controllers, picked up on radar and is a subject that really exists. What we must do is investigate what causes it.”
He also admitted that the extraterrestrial possibility is also within the working hypotheses. “It is the one that attracts people the most,” but cautions” without dismissing that possibility, there are others that may cause the phenomenon to come about.”
An Agreement with Chile
To have more information on the subject, CRIDOVNI recently signed an agreement with its Chilean counterpart. “We undertake to work jointly, perform investigations, exchange information and anything relevant that may provide information on the UFO phenomenon,” said Sanchez.
This is the world’s first agreement between two air forces to approach the subject. “What we have done in the region is significant. We hope that more countries will sign on to this accord,” he noted.
(Translation (c) 2012, Scott Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Guillermo Gimenez, Planeta UFO)
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