Apr 15, 2015 I Paul Seaburn

Argentine Villagers Fear UFOs Are The Lanterns of the Devil

Bright flashing lights are appearing out of nowhere on rural roads in the Ibicuy Islands of Argentina. Residents report that the lights are too intense to be oncoming vehicles. Besides, when they get to the spots where the lights were, there’s no car or truck to be seen. They wonder if the lights might be from UFOs, but what they fear the most is that they are Farol de Mandinga, the Lanterns of the Devil.

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An illustration of horsemen fleeing Lanterns of the Devil

Also known as La Luz Mala or the evil or bad light, Farol de Mandinga (sometimes called Farol de Diablo) is the name natives of swampy areas in northern Argentina give to low-lying lights that seem to appear shortly after sunset. The lights are described as intensely bright with wisps emanating from them. The lights float and dance to entice people to follow them despite the sound of cries of pain that come from them. A lucky few will be led to the foot of a hill where treasure is buried. Most will instead find broken pottery containing decaying human remains -  what’s left of the sinners whose souls have become the lights. The remains are said to be fatal to anyone who touches or even smells them, which is why they carry a blanket to put over their head.

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A photo of La Luz Mala

No wonder the residents of the Ibicuy Islands fear them. The islands are swampy low-lying areas between the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers. There are few vehicles on the roads so people like this eyewitness are surprised by the sudden appearance of the lights.

… at the time, amid the solitude of the country, you do not know what to do, because it is very surprising, are like the headlights of an oncoming car head-on but when you look back nothing, no vehicle, only the lights, flashing and go.

Are these lights the feared Farol de Mandinga, UFOs or something else? The “something else” could be “ignis fatuus,” the Latin phrase meaning “foolish fire” used to describe the bright lights often called will-o’-the-wisp  in the U.S. that are caused by the combustion of swamp gases.

Whatever these lights are, no one wants to see them on long, lonely, desolate stretches of highway unless their looking for buried treasure, a ghostly adventure or inspiration for a country-western song.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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