There's probably no bigger stereotype in the modern Sci-Fi genre than the concept of the 'alien invasion'. Since Hollywood found it to be such a gold mine (something my friend and colleague Robbie Graham has explored at length) popular culture has flooded our heads with visions of ginormous vessels blackening the skies of New York, London or other major metropoles, and ill-intentioned intruders from outer space so highly advanced and powerful they are almost unstoppable --'almost' being always the operative word, since a story in which the aliens couldn't be defeated by some unexpected weakness by indomitable Earthlings would make for a pretty depressing blockbuster... Or at least, boring AF.
But what if aliens turned out to be not that highly advanced and unstoppable, as we would like to imagine them? What if the only thing needed to stop them was not a secret weapon or a computer virus coded by Jeff Goldblum, but just a bit of bravery --and a good whack in the head?
The bizarre tale I'm about to share with you, dear Coppertops, has its roots during the crazy years of the UMMO affair we revisited on my last article, yet it concluded decades later under very serendipitous circumstances. Its high-strangeness nature is a perfect example of how the UFO phenomenon --whatever its origin and true nature it may be-- always seems to confound our preconceived expectations.
It all started around the time when a group of people in Spain began to receive the first of those long, typewritten letters allegedly sent by extraterrestrials from planet UMMO. The landing of a disk-shaped object in the neighborhood of Aluche had already been published by the press --for more info about that, please go to my previous post-- and a small group of flying saucer enthusiasts were having regular gatherings at the basement of the Café Lion in Madrid, which was known around bohemian and literary groups of the Spaniard capital as "La Ballena Alegre" (The Happy Whale) due to the whimsical murals adorning its walls.
It was in one of those UFOlogical salons, on the night of May 30th, 1967 and with around 30 people present, when the lecture of a new UMMO letter took place. The document announced the coming of three of their scout ships to planet Earth, which would take place in the coming days. The specified coordinates for the arrival of the Ummite vessels were:
"BOLIVIA (Oruro Zone): The descent will be verified on a point located within a circular area which, having the city of Oruro at its center, has a radius of 208 kilometers with a margin of error of ± 4 kilometers.
SPAIN (Madrid Zone): The descent is foreseen within a circular area which has the following coordinates at its center: Longitude (3° 45' 20,6" W). Latitude (40° 28' 2,2" N)
BRAZIL (Río Grande Do Sul Zone): Proximity of Santo Angelo. The elevated margin of error prevents further specification."
The whole assembly signed on the document as witnesses of what they had heard. If the announcement came true it would prove the extraterrestrial origin of the letter --or so they thought. Nobody seemed to find it funny that the only precise coordinates provided by the extraterrestrials were the ones from their own country, Spain (why couldn't these space visitors be more accurate with the Bolivia and Brazil landings?). José Luis Jordán Peña, the man who decades later would claim the authorship of the UMMO deception, even had the gall to put his own signature on the paper.
On June the 2nd the newspaper Informaciones published the UFO photographs taken near San José de Valderas, that would end up to be known worldwide thanks to Antonio Ribera and Rafael Farriols's book "Un Caso Perfecto" (A Perfect Case), which didn't turn out to be so 'perfect' after all (as I already explained on my previous article) but such controversy was still years in the horizon, and the nitid images of the white disk with the black H-like emblem was all the true believers needed to deem the UMMO information worthy of credit.
But what about the two other landing sites? On June 5th Enrique Villagrasa --one of the earliest recipients of UMMO letters-- took the initiative of writing to the biggest newspapers in the Bolivian city of Oruro and the Brazilian city of Santo Angelo, to inquire whether any UFO-related news had been reported between the dates of the reading of the UMMO letter at La Ballena Alegre, and the Valderas sighting. Although he never got a reply back from Brazil, two weeks later Villagrasa obtained a written response from the director of the Bolivian newspaper La Patria, telling him that something strange actually did take place around that time, which had been reported by one of the newspaper's correspondents who had traveled to the town of Uyunu (approximately 300 kilometers south of Oruro) to cover a story pertaining to a robbery of dynamite --remember that at the time, the Bolivian army was fighting guerrilla insurgents and in that same year (1967) Ernesto "Che" Guevara was captured and executed.
According to Enrique Miralles, director of La Patria, the story the correspondent had brought back from that remote location was so fantastic, "I refused to print it until I could count with convincing proof [of its authenticity] --adequate identification of the persons and authorities that intervened in the event, evidence and photographs, etc. It was in such circumstances that your letter arrived to my hands."
What was this 'fantastic' story obtained by the La Patria reporter? Why and how were the authorities involved? The director's letter didn't offer any details, and it was the last time Villagrasa would ever hear from Miralles. And thus for almost 30 years the cryptic words from the South American journalist sat as an unassuming thread in the larger yarn of the UMMO affair, until UFO investigator Juan José Benítez decided to do what no one else thought of: travel to South America to try and discover what --if anything-- had taken place on that small corner of the Bolivian Altiplano on June of 1967.
As Benítez's explains in his book "El Hombre que Susurraba a los Ummitas" (The Man who Whispered to the Ummites) the quest took 5 years, several trips to Bolivia, a lot of tenacity (Benítez's wife, who accompanied him, would probably say "stubbornness") and more than a few synchronicities, but he eventually managed to track down most of the participants involved in what certainly constitutes one of the strangest cases in the annals of UFOlogy. The first one was the by-then retired newspaper director Enrique Miralles in 1996, who confirmed to him that one of their correspondents --an Argentinian by the name of Lucho Amarayo-- was the one who brought back a report concerning a remote village in the Uyuni region where "little men" were said to have slaughtered the sheep of the native farmers, and then fled the scene riding some 'flying chairs'(!). The peasants had complained to the nearest local authorities who --despite the fantastic narrative-- decided to deploy a small regiment of soldiers to investigate anyway, for fear it could be the work of rebel forces; but Miralles never learned what came of that, and as explained in the letter he wrote to Villagrasa in 1967, he never bothered to print the story for lack of evidence.
Benítez tried to obtain more information by looking at the old records of the La Patria newspaper during his stay at Oruro, but the only thing he found was the date when the robbery of the explosives took place (June 11, 1967) --which didn't coincide with the UMMO announcement received by the Madrilenian contactees, but by now the story of the 'little flying men' was enough to pique his curiosity. His next clue of the case came rather unexpectedly, when he was forced to stop the investigation and travel to the Bolivian capital (La Paz) to attend a book fair. There, while signing books, he managed to meet two fans of his who turned out to be related to colonel Rogelio Ayala, the officer in charge of the regiment that had been sent to investigate the what had upset the indigenous villagers. Such incredible coincidences have become a regular feature in Benítez's adventures and have further convinced him that, when it comes to UFOs, nothing happens by chance.
Through the testimony of colonel Ayala, Benítez's managed to gather more pieces of the puzzle, and interviewed other members of the regiment who accompanied the Bolivian officer to the remote native village --Pablo Ayala (the colonel's son and the youngest in the group), lieutenants Caso and Ampuero, and doctor Jesús Pereyra, who joined the soldiers in the expedition to respond to the plea of the three men sent by the village, who had made the long trek to the military station at Uyuni to denounce the loss of their precious animals.
"We left at dawn and the trip felt endless to me," Pablo told Benítez. "The site was just composed by 2 or 3 adobe huts in the middle of nowhere and far away from the nearest town. Close to the houses were the stone corrals where they keep their sheep, and on the ground they had placed all the dead animals. We counted more than 30. We were perplexed: the carcasses showed numerous mutilations, with a series of near-perfect circular orifices. The death of the beasts didn't make any sense --it was the only source of sustenance for these people."
Aside from the surgical incisions in the bodies, the members of the regiment also noticed that several organs (the eyes, ears, tongues, kidneys and livers) were missing. If this had been the work of guerrilla forces, they thought, it was most peculiar --if the rebels were looking for food, why take only the entrails and leave all the meat behind? The soldiers also observed another peculiar thing: most of the animals appeared to be completely exsanguinated (devoid of blood), a typical hallmark in anomalous mutilation cases.
The manner by which those poor sheep had been slaughtered was told to the military men by one of the village's women, who had been the main witness of the incredible event. Through all sorts of inquiries and synchronicities that involved further trips to Bolivia, Benítez was miraculously able to track down that same native woman in 2001 --an illiterate peasant that only spoke in quechua by the name of Valentina Flores, who was around 60 years old when Benítez interviewed her, yet still clearly remembered that ominous encounter with "los hombrecitos" (the little men), which had brought an irreparable calamity to her family:
"That day I was alone, with only my youngest daughter beside me; I was carrying her on my back with a blanket. My husband was a commissioner and --like the rest of the other men-- he was at the pampa, working. It was around four in the afternoon when it happened. I secured the sheep and lambs at some place, and then went out to look for a llama and its calf which had gone missing."
Valentina explained to Benítez the search for the missing llama had taken her about 90 minutes, but by the time she returned the sheep were gone.
"I followed the tracks of the herd and arrived to the corrals at the nearby hill. Inside the pen was a small man on his knees, with a sheep between his legs. The top of the corral --an open, circular enclosure with stone walls around 5' high-- was covered with something that looked like a net. I got scared. That man had killed all my animals."
--"What did he look like?" asked Benítez.
--"He was like a child, this high (raising her hand to a height of about 4 feet). He wore a strange one-piece suit, like a scuba diver, dark in color from the feet to his neck. His boots were brown. On the head he was wearing something that reminded me of a helmet, leaving his face uncovered. His skin was very white; he had blond hair, blue eyes, and a red and bushy mustache." Valentina also added that the short being looked young and 'plump', and was carrying a strange apparatus on his back that looked like a 'chair with legs', as well as other gadgets on the sides held together with suspenders. Not too far away from the enclosure Valentina observed a second individual similar to the one that was busy butchering her herd--who apparently hadn't noticed her presence yet, because he had his back turned toward the entrance. Next to this pale-faced 'dwarf' was another weird contraption, which seemed to control the net covering the pen.
"I took up a rock from the ground and threw it at the one inside the corral, who got frightened when he saw me and got up. I kept throwing stones at him. He then touched the machine next to him and the net 'disappeared'" --Benítez interpreted Valentina's words as meaning that the net had contracted inside the radio-like contraption, after the small humanoid had touched one of its buttons.
Valentina, who despite their strange appearance still thought she was facing two common thieves, kept coming closer and stoning the mysterious murdering midget. But by then the second intruder had taken flight and fled the scene! According to the crude description provided by the indigenous woman, on top of their helmet the beings had some sort of 'propeller', which combined with two long 'tubes' that dangled from the sides of their bodies allowed them to float in the air. Meanwhile the being inside the corral had hastily gathered all his things --including a bag full of the sheep's freshly removed entrails-- and ran out of the enclosure.
"He talked to me, but I couldn't understand his words, which weren't Quechua nor Spanish. He looked as upset as I was. Dear God, he had killed all my herd! I went crazy, grabbed a stick and went after him. When I was some 6 feet away from him I struck him with all my strength. The stick, which had iron on the tip, hit him straight in the face and he started to bleed." The little man kept yelling at Valentina with that unintelligible language, and then he proceeded to attack her with some sort of "knife" that had a small hook on its end, the same weapon he had used to kill and butcher the sheep. "It had a chain on the other end," Valentina explained, "and it always came back to his hand every time he threw it." No disintegrator gun or phaser set to stun for this alien invader, as Hollywould would demand, but instead something more suitable for a cheesy kung-fu movie.
The 'boomerang knife' made several deep cuts in the chest and arms of Valentina, but the thick knot of the blanket with which she was carrying her child protected her neck and probably saved her life, according to the brave woman, who kept on beating on her attacker with the stick until she managed to break his arm and wrist. "Then, very nervously and manipulating his devices with the left hand, he ran to the top of a little hill nearby and took flight like the other one," she said, leaving only a trail of blood --red, just like ours, according to Valentina-- as the fleeting testament of the amazing battle. According to the military men's testimony to Benítez, although some samples of the blood were taken, they never bothered to sent it for analysis to one of the few labs operating in Bolivia at the time.
The other remnants of the encounter --the 63 sheep and lambs killed and mutilated by the flying little fiends-- were later inspected by the regiment of soldiers who came to the village a few days later, as was already explained in the previous paragraphs. They took Valentina's testimony, but since it was clear the slaughtering had not been the work of rebel forces it was no longer a matter for their official concern, so they returned to their station to give their report, and no reparation of the damage was ever given to the native farmers. Unlike Jacob, who had been blessed by the angel he had wrestled with, Valentina's encounter with the flying humanoids was a curse: Financially ruined, the Flores family had no choice but to leave their home and seek work in the mines of Oruro. From there they migrated to the south of the country, never to set foot in their old village again.
After so many years, miles traversed and thousands of dollars spent, Benítez had finally closed the book on this UFOlogical case. Although satisfied, he now had more questions than when he began his personal quest: why would 'superior beings from another world' --supposedly more evolved than us, both technically and morally-- have the necessity to rob indigenous peasants (the poorest of the poor in this world) of their livelihood by butchering the herd of livestock they depended on to survive? What could possibly be the connection between the Bolivian humanoids and the bigger UMMO affair? Valentina never observed the famous )+( emblem in the clothes of the aerial assailants, and yet it's clear that the chain of events that led the Spanish investigator to this close encounter was triggered by the infamous letter received by the Madrilenian contactees in 1967. I already explained on my previous article why the UMMO case is filled with hoaxes and deception and how the letters were forged by José Luis Jordán Peña; yet without the letters, this case --like so many others-- would have fallen through the cracks of history and be lost forever.
Or would it? Although I was forced to skip many details for the sake of brevity, the manner by which Juan José Benítez managed to be face to face with Valentina Flores is almost as incredible as the story itself. It's almost as if some UFO cases take place not for the sake of the original witnesses, but instead are intended to be discovered and studied by someone else, years or even decades later. If that's the case, it would not only be further proof of the 'theatrical' nature of the phenomenon, but also that *you*, dear Coppertop, were meant to read this post on Mysterious Universe, just as much as *I* was meant to write it…
As for me, one of the reasons I love this case so much is not only the fact that it's level of absurdity makes me suspect it actually did take place, but also that it kind of goes counter to some of the more recent ideas proposed in the field of UFOlogy. Take my friend and mentor Greg Bishop, who coined the term 'co-creation' to depict how paranormal events are somehow influenced by the witness's expectations and cultural circumstances; although I find Greg's ideas provocative and going on the right track, Valentina Flores's encounter with levitating leprechauns showing gear straight out of a Jetsons cartoon would make more sense if it had happened in 19th-century Ireland or to someone of Celtic ascendancy, instead of a South American indigenous woman deep in the heart of the Bolivian Altiplano --BTW, isn't it interesting how her weapon against the intruder had IRON, which is known to be a substance fairy folk are notoriously averse to?
And yet encounters with pale-skinned dwarves are not that uncommon in South America, as stated by Jacques Vallee in his book The Invisible College, where he narrates the case of a Brazilian soldier who in 1969, while fishing on a boat at a lagoon North of Belo Horizonte, was abducted by two 4-feet-tall beings who took him inside a machine that looked like an upright cylinder. The poor man was dragged blindfolded until he was sat inside a large, windowless stone chamber in front of an assembly of robust dwarves with long reddish hair and bushy beards. The leader of the dwarves forced him to drink from a cubical glass made of stone, then proceeded to communicate through sign language and drawings their intentions of making the soldier their 'envoy' with the people of Earth. The man refused and started to frantically pray the rosary until the irritated dwarves took him out of the room and transported him back two hundred miles --and four days later-- from the lake where he was kidnapped.
The Brazilian soldier recounted that in one of the walls of the stone chamber was a low shelf with the corpses of four human beings. Had they been killed by his diminutive captors? That was the soldier's assumption. Maybe the whole event was some sort of 'conditioning treatment'' using a similar level of absurdity, shock and theatricality than in the Bolivia case of 1967, elaborately conducted for purposes that escape our reasoning. Or maybe there really are beings out there who --like the stereotypical alien invaders of Hollywood blockbusters-- make no distinctions between the butchering of livestock and the slaughtering of people. In which case the name of Valentina Flores needs to be remembered and praised for all posterity, for giving ZERO FUCKS during a mano-a-mano with a being from another world, and showing advanced anti-gravity technology is not match against a feisty woman defending her property.
Move over, Will Smith! Here's the *real* defender of planet Earth.