By A. J. Gevaerd
Editor Brazilian UFO Magazine
Editor Brazilian UFO Magazine
During the first ever official meeting between members of the Brazilian Committee of Ufologists (CBU) and military of the Brazilian Air Force held on May 20th 2005, at the Brazilian Airspace Defense Command (Comdabra) headquarters, Brigadier Jose Carlos Pereira, a former commander of the body from 1999 to 2001, has shown a special interest in the subject. At the end of the meeting, he escorted the ufologists himself to the exit door of the building and after receiving some issues of Brazilian UFO Magazine declared: “I thank you for the gift, but I should say that I always buy the magazine at Brasilia newsstands”. In an informal way and with no reservation Pereira confirmed his high interest and level of information regarding UFO matters.
Brigadier Jose Carlos Pereira is undeniably regarded by Brazilian ufologists as a high-rank official who has material information on the existence and concreteness of UFOs, not to mention their unquestionable extraterrestrial origin. Until little time ago he did not bother to hide what military new on the issue. Therefore, as part of the second phase of the Brazilian campaign UFOs: Liberdade de Informação Já [UFOs: Freedom of Information Now], the Brazilian Committee of Ufologists (CBU) decided to meet him for an interview with no guarantees that he would accept the invitation.
To our great surprise, however, Brigadier Jose Carlos Pereira accepted the invitation and granted Brazilian UFO Magazine with an exclusive interview in which he reports the truth of UFO phenomena in Brazil. The meeting took place on March 8th, in Brasilia, and was a unique opportunity for Brazilian ufologists to become aware of Pereira's opinions on the issue. More than that, it was an opportunity for all to know details on his thinking about different aspects of UFO phenomenon, namely topics related to the Air Force, national security, and responses of Brazilian military surrounding this subject
“I'll be readily available to ufologists of Brazilian UFO Magazine and it will be a great pleasure to meet them at any time”, said Pereira when accepting the invitation. “I always respected the work of this magazine and I wish to contribute to the movement they are leading, aiming the freedom of UFO information in Brazil”. Days before the date of the interview was set a significant impact was expected after its publication. It would be something similar to another historical occasion for Brazilian Ufology when Brazilian UFO Magazine was also directly involved: the interview with Colonel Uyrangê Hollanda, in 1997.
For our publication this would be an opportunity for not only know the ideas of one of the most brilliant military in the country but also to bring him to join the movement UFOs: Liberdade de Informação Já, which was fully achieved. “It's time to disclose all secrets on this subject in Brazil, be them from any air bases, and I'll will work for this to happen”, he declares. During an interview with more than a hundred questions the military showed the seriousness with which he sees the subject and the research. He entrusted his interviewers – this editor and special consultants for Brazilian UFO Magazine Roberto Affonso Beck and Fernando de Aragao Ramalho – with important information.
Brigadier Jose Carlos Pereira openly spoke on nearly all subjects approached not refraining from answering any questions to him presented. “I intend to talk to my uniform colleagues and get informed on the exact environment in military headquarters and air bases in order to bring the support of some of them to your work”, he offered even before being asked to do so. Throughout the questioning, Pereira talked about security in Brazilian air space, violations the nation suffered from unidentified flying objects, the so called Official UFO Night in Brazil, Operação Prato [Operation Saucer] and its commander, and even described some UFO events unknown to us.
“Colonel Uyrangê Hollanda, commander of Operação Prato [Operation Saucer], was a serious and objective man, diligent and respected by all”, Pereira says, confirming what Brazilian ufologists always knew but had no means to assure – that indeed Operação Prato [Operation Saucer] resulted in more than 2.000 pages of documents besides the already known 500 pictures and 16 hours of footage. Regarding Caso Varginha, however, he says to know nothing but what was revealed by Brazilian UFO Magazine and the press. He seemed to be sincere because such case belongs to a different military sector, the Army.
Brigadier Jose Carlos Pereira was born in Salvador (BA) and joined the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) in March 1958, retiring in July 2005 after occupying the main positions in the Air Force hierarchy including the highest rank of all. He was graduated in December 1963 and little by little became one of the best specialists for space policies and strategies in Brazil. Pereira was also a jet pilot as well as a pilot for transports, a special air operations and a military parachutist.
Pereira was an operations officer and a commander of the Unit for Jet Training, a commander of air bases and official of the superior military command in operations and personnel sectors. He had a distinguished performance at the military intelligence being an official at Brazilian Presidency cabinet and an official for intelligence at the Inter-American Defense Board, in Washington. Pereira was also chief of logistics and mobilization of the superior command of Brazilian Armed Forces, commander of the Brazilian Air Force Academy (AFA) and chief of the General Command of Air Operations.
Over the last 10 years, Brigadier Jose Carlos Pereira was also a commander of operations for the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) being responsible for 13 generals and a total number of 27 thousand subordinates. From 1999 to 2001, he was a general commander for Air Operations and for the Brazilian Airspace Defense Command (Comdabra), a body that was already called “Brazilian Area 51”. As we can see, it is no overestimate to say that during some time Pereira was the guardian of the key to the safe where Brazilian UFO secrets have been kept. On March 27th 2006, already retired, this Brigadier took office at the presidency of the Brazilian Airport Infrastructure Agency (Infraero), by appointment of Minister Nelson Jobim.
Brazilian ufologists consider that Pereira's statements will have a significant impact on the campaign UFOs: Liberdade de Informação Já [UFOs: Freedom of Information Now]. Never before a military of that rank spoke so freely about UFOs. Very few from other countries came so close to repeat the same initiative. This encouraged Brazilian UFO Magazine to try a contact with military of the same level in the Navy and in the Army in order to look for the support Brazilian ufologists need to fulfill their goals. Step by step we follow our path which someday will lead us to the freedom of UFO information in Brazil. Uyrangê Hollanda gave his contribution and now Jose Carlos Pereira joins his efforts.
UFO: Brigadier, you have been the one in military who speaks more about UFOs in the media. You have given several interviews always in a very open and natural manner. What makes you act like this?
Pereira: I consider that as a matter of personal belief. I believe there should be no subject to be kept closed to humankind. It might look flamboyant and bizarre, but this subject must always be checked and investigated. Galileo, Copernicus, and so many other scientists must have known that. So I believe no human being or institution has the right to keep doors closed to the discussion of any matters, be it scientific, political, social or religious. Not even to Ufology, which I consider to be within the scientific field. This is a personal point of view that I sustain till these days.
UFO: It has been said that you keep the key to the safe where UFO secrets are kept, including documents, pictures and footages made in different circumstances by military in duty in different bases – some in missions like Operação Prato [Operation Saucer], some by accident. What could these secrets reveal?
Pereira: Look, I'm a man devoted to science, a man with a scientific mind. If you present the idea that extraterrestrials are here, that they are visiting and investigating us, that they are doing things that we cannot understand what they are, then your idea goes against scientific reasoning. Because, as far as we know, our Solar System has presented no indication for the existence of life in another planet except Earth.
UFO: And what if we consider civilizations with a much more advanced technology compared to ours?
Pereira: OK, look, I'm analyzing with the knowledge we have today in our planet, with the knowledge our current stage of science has achieved. This is the caveat to be consider. So, if we consider only this knowledge, I reject every possibility of anyone coming from outer space to Earth. And it gets more complex if we go further because Alpha Centauri does not seem to be a planetary system. Let's move then to the portion of the Universe astronomers call “inhabitable zone”, which seems to be many light years from Earth.
UFO: Is the understanding of this situation beyond our control?
Pereira: The starting point is the technology we have today to understand the universe. I wouldn't say no one might have advanced a million years ahead somewhere else. On the other hand, the technology we have today on Earth fully dismisses the possibility of someone from out of the solar system to arrive here. I humbly insist that our knowledge must still be insignificant to comprehend all of this. We can see by what happened over the last hundred years with discoveries ranging from penicillin to the airplane.
UFO: Spacecraft coming to Earth certainly do not use the same propulsion technology we used to explore the Moon, Mars or Venus. Do you think this should be openly discussed by civil society?
Pereira: No, they probably don't use rocket engines like our spacecraft sent to space. My opinion on Ufology is that it must approach scientific fields in the near future, such as astronomy, astrophysics, and astronautics in order to form a more consistent scientific group. I don't refuse the idea of philosophy entering this range of subjects, with its modern concepts aiming to quickly address the issues we couldn't solve to date: who we are, where we came from, and where are we going to... Since Aristotle we make the same questions and no one answers. Ufology in combination with these other subjects might be a way to these answers.
UFO: Your open and frank position matches those of a few other Brazilian military. However, the same is confronted by some sectors within the military who prefer UFO matters to be kept out of public discussion. Do you think it is time to break such resistance?
Pereira: Look, I believe the mere opening of secret files to be delivered to the press and the public in general is something that can be done tomorrow morning without any problem. But I think this is not enough, not sufficient. Ufologists might even get disappointed when they see those files because I feel they expect more concrete evidence and maybe they won't find what they long for in those folders. However, I think that an official example of opening UFO archives – especially when this attitude comes from the military – comes to favor and empower other people that fear to discuss the issue. I think that from the moment the government opens the subject for debate all the fear people have towards this subject will be gone and things become more transparent. No one fears transparency; instead people fear the lack of it. So I believe that such an opening is really helpful and has a very favorable effect in this discussion.
UFO: And what to do while we do not achieve this relying only on testimonials of thousands of highly credible people who have experienced UFO phenomena?
Pereira: One must consider all different sorts of evidence surrounding UFOs. As in any police work, we have documental, testimonial, and circumstantial evidence each with their own weight. Documental evidence, for example, has its own impact as has a testimonial. Has anybody seen something in the sky? Great! But it’s even better when we have 50 people witnessing it. Especially when these people don't know one another and live in different communities. This is how testimonial evidence becomes stronger. And, at last, we have the circumstantial evidence, which is the most fragile of all. We must separate these three kinds of evidence we have today concerning Ufology. Circumstantial evidence are present in high volume, so are testimonial ones, and 90% of these have a scientific explanation while the remaining 10% do not. Regarding material evidence, we have none.
UFO: Would you call the occurrence of May 20th 1986, the so called Official UFO Night in Brazil, as a circumstantial evidence of the UFO phenomena?
Pereira: As far as I know, observations in that occasion were testimonial evidence from people who saw it.
UFO: Jet pilots who were sent by the Air Force to intercept those objects were very experienced.
Pereira: Yes, they were. That's why those are testimonial evidence, situations in which witnesses saw something and radars detected that same thing. Look, radars may present a false echo, they may be affected by many different factors, but when we have more than one radar spotting the same target, then we have something serious enough to be ignored [in an assured tone]. This equipment operates in different frequencies.
UFO: One of the jet planes intercepting the objects was even surrounded by many of them who came relatively close...
Pereira: Here we have the sum of different facts. Someone has seen something and radar spotted it. Such equipment has nothing to do with human eyes, it's an electronic device. Another pair of eyes also saw that same thing [another pilot] and so on. Then you start to give credits to the occurrence and the situation becomes more concrete. OK, but where is the object? Was it captured? Here is where the material evidence thing comes in, and we don't have it.
UFO: Brigadier, when the Brazilian Committee of Ufologists (CBU) visited Comdabra on May 20th 2005, we were received by Brigadier Atheneu Azambuja, who showed us three folders of UFO occurrences from that body's archives. Aren't these evidence that we have been visited by objects crewed and controlled by intelligent non terrestrial beings?
Pereira: Well, those folders are not only at Comdabra, they are spread through other bodies worldwide. They prove that unexplained phenomena occurring lead us to believe in the presence of such being and alien objects on planet Earth. That's it. They are uncommon to our planet. Now, telling what are those beings and objects is a very risky thing since we have no knowledge enough for that [in a cautious tone]. So, I believe Ufology has much more work ahead [in order to identify the phenomenon] and even needs to add some other subjects to its efforts.
UFO: At the time of that visit to Comdabra we said that we would like to conduct a joint study with the Air Force by forming a mixed team of civilian ufologists and military. What do you think about this?
Pereira: Yes, but I should say that such a team would need more people. Besides ufologists I believe that it's necessary to have scientists, astronomers, physicists, etc, because such knowledge must be jointly addressed by more people.
UFO: Do you personally believe that civilizations from other planets might be visiting us?
Pereira: Well, my thought on this is that we, humans, left ground for the first time in an airplane nearly 100 years ago and within only one century could reach the Moon. In astronomic means we could say that a hundred years are nothing, not even dust. Then, if in one century and with our limited capacity we could achieve this... Now, think: where will we reach a hundred or a thousand years from now?
UFO: We know that the Brazilian Air Force officially investigates the UFO phenomenon since 1969, when Brigadier Jose Vaz da Silva established the System for Investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects (SIOANI) at the Brazilian IV Regional Air Command (COMAR 4). But why was that research apparently closed in that same year without any further progress?
Pereira: Look, that's a very interesting question. I wasn't around that time and have not researched those facts. I've never had the idea of investigating the reasons why that work was ended, but I suspect Brigadier Vaz da Silva hasn't had any more conditions to go further. He tells a different story [from many other military]. He was always an avant-garde man, always ahead of this time.
UFO: Do you believe in a superior interference in the establishment of SIOANI or was it an exclusive initiative of Brigadier Vaz da Silva?
Pereira: I'm almost sure there was a superior order. Certainly a superior instance to Brigadier Vaz da Silva worked with it by supporting the project, assisting and implementing SIOANI. A commander can't do anything by himself. He must have a superior instance behind his actions.
UFO: The two leaked SIOANI bulletins brought descriptions of cases researched by the body, including UFO landings and their crew. These are being investigated and kept in secret by the military. This is the kind of documents ufologists want to see disclosed. Do you believe they can be publicly revealed?
Pereira: In my opinion there is no reason to keep such material in secret. None. I understand that the disclosure won't affect any of the four classical criteria military always have in mind when dealing with national secrets. And these are represented by the following questions: first, will the disclosure take the country into a war? Second, will it cause panic in the population? Third, is it a threat to the national security, be it with a South-American country or any other? And fourth, will the disclosure of this material affect the privacy of people possibly mentioned on it? This is what we must have in mind. If none of these matters are affected – which is actually the case –, then it must be disclosed!
UFO: Are you for the disclosure of UFO documents prepared by the military and kept in secret to date?
Pereira: Absolutely. Unless the disclosure affects any of the four items I've just mentioned. In that case I think the material should not be disclosed. We must respect people's privacy and also the national security as we have to preserve peace and order. Also, we shouldn't start a war or create indisposition with other countries. Anyway, we shouldn’t reveal our plans to the enemy. Besides those factors, it's time for transparency and for clearing this subject.
UFO: Do you think this also applies to documents from Operação Prato [Operation Saucer], carried out by the Air Force of State of Para in 1977?
Pereira: Sure! No doubt about that! To all and every operation!
UFO: Have you received specific information on that operation?
Pereira: At the moment it was carried out, no. I knew of the results only after that. But I knew Hollanda [Colonel Uyrangê Hollanda, commander of that military mission]. He worked for the Air Force Intelligence, same as I did, so we were always passing by one another.
UFO: I interviewed Hollanda in 1997. I had just given an interview to Fantástico [Fantastic], talking about the documents Brazilian Air Force holds and he saw me at the show and called me the next morning saying: “Look, Gevaerd, I follow your work and I know you are doing the right thing. I want to say that now I'm retired and have no more obligations with my uniform. So, if you want to come to Rio to interview me, I'll have much to say”. I went to Rio immediately and together with Marco Antonio Petit we had a historical interview with him. Have you read it?
Pereira: Yes, of course. I have a copy with me and have also found it in several websites. It's a long interview and I read it carefully. Some time ago, a colleague sent me a copy and I replied: “Man, do you really think I don't have it? I got a copy long ago”.
UFO: Really? Then I conclude that high rank officials as you may have had become aware of Hollanda's statements.
Pereira: Yes, certainly. It's a long and much known interview. But Hollanda was a very disturbed man, with a very introspective personality. And as a result he took his own life…
UFO: Do you believe his personal problems somehow influenced the statements he made to Brazilian UFO Magazine concerning Operação Prato [Operation Saucer]?
Pereira: Not the contents, but maybe the way he did it. Hollanda was a serious man and wouldn't be able to change the contents, especially regarding such an important matter.
UFO: People say that he loved to be called to lead that operation because all he wanted was to go to the jungle. He headed the military mission and had a close encounter with an ET, so he told us at the interview. Did you know this?
Pereira: I knew that, he reported it, but I have never discussed this issue with him. Hollanda also called me shortly after, but I was in another operation [not a ufological one].
UFO: He told us that he was together with a subordinate at Rio Guajará-Mirim heading towards the camp when a cylindrical aircraft with 100m in length nearly landed on the other margin. From the top, a door was opened and an ET came from it floating to the place where they were. According to Hollanda this was the most exciting moment in the operation. Have you ever discussed that with him?
Pereira: No, unfortunately I didn't have details before. But maybe that's why he had put all of his efforts and dedication in Operação Prato [Operation Saucer], which was where he found a sense for his life. If he couldn't succeed as an aviator and if he rejected the idea of being an intending officer, then the intelligence suited him well. Working for the intelligence for me is an agreeable experience, at least partially. Things were tough those times. I worked a lot with pure military intelligence, with strategy. But I was never much concerned with communists for example [the first official justification for Operação Prato [Operation Saucer] was that it was conceived in order to identify communists possibly hidden in the Amazon jungle].
UFO: Hollanda suspected that the contact he had with an ET at the margin of Rio Guajará-Mirim during December 1977 was the turning point for the termination of Operação Prato [Operation Saucer]. He said he was ordered to terminate the operation after reporting it to his superior, Brigadier Protásio Lopes de Oliveira, then commander of the Brazilian I Regional Air Command (COMAR 1). Did you know that?
Pereira: Partly. I didn't have that detail.
UFO: Many people do not believe he killed himself. He would have been murdered instead for having supposedly talked too much. This is not true. However, if our issue where the first part of the interview – UFO 054, October 1997 – was earlier released and if he had seen the respect Equipe UFO [Brazilian UFO Magazine Team]rendered him then maybe by feeling honored and seeing the huge contribution he gave to Brazilian Ufology he would not have taken his own life...
Pereira: Yes, maybe. But he had a very lonely life and that is something very sad. That's why in military life the sector which mostly unites people is the intelligence. Those who lived this experience suffer when they leave the circle. It's somewhat like in a combat situation: when bullets are crossing by no one thinks about the homeland. Everybody is thinking about their own lives and the lives of those around them, the ones who can save their lives. When Hollanda retired he was completely isolated from everyone and everything. This can really affect someone.
UFO: Hollanda was very close to the UFO phenomenon, especially from the middle to the end of Operação Prato [Operation Saucer], until he had that contact with an ET and the mission was terminated. But this did not prevent him from his own investigations which he carried out during his spare time. He even had other contacts until the phenomena around him suddenly stopped. This seems to have affected him a lot. Did you know that?
Pereira: No, I didn't. But once I was talking about Hollanda to a psychologist and she told me he presented the profile of someone who had faced something very serious in some moment of life. An event so serious that could isolate him, let's say, from his fellows [in a regretting tone].
UFO: Do you consider that the experience he had with Operação Prato [Operation Saucer] could have contributed to his state of mind?
Pereira: Yes, no doubt about that, it was a catalysis factor, a very strong experience.
UFO: During that time, were the results Operação Prato [Operation Saucer] commented on in military circles?
Pereira: Yes. Not with great emphasis, but everybody knew what was happening.
UFO: And how about the contact Hollanda had with an ET, in December 1977. Was this also known to military?
Pereira: Only a few people knew about that. I knew about it much later, not at the moment that occurred. Brigadier Protásio was the one who talked to me about that fact. At the time it occurred I was already more senior than Hollanda in the Air Force and I only knew about that specific episode, the contact itself, when I was to be promoted a Brigadier. But, regarding Operação Prato [Operation Saucer], I was made aware as soon as I started working in the intelligence, when I was still a Colonel. I was a planning director at the Air Force and all files were at my disposal.
UFO: Have you had access to the documents prepared during Operação Prato [Operation Saucer]?
Pereira: Yes, all of them. But this happened when I was the planning director for the Air Force, in the early 90s.
UFO: And where were those files? Brasilia?
Pereira: Yes, Brasilia. Those files were all collected and some were sent to the SNI [Brazilian National Information Service, a body that originated the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN)]. But only part of them. I would see them again only several years later when I was in a different position at the Air Force.
UFO: So you had the operation files at your disposal. The information we had came to us through Hollanda and could not be satisfactorily confirmed is that he and his subordinates produced at least 2.000 pages of sighting reports which were typed by sergeant Flavio Costa, a kind of secretary in the mission, besides 500 pictures and 16 hours of footage and super 16mm. Do you confirm that?
Pereira: Ah, yes, that must be this. Those footages were the best thing we had at the time.
UFO: When the Brazilian Committee of Ufologists (CBU) was at Comdabra we could see part of those pages and pictures. We saw more than a hundred of them contained in a folder. Where is the rest of the materials?
Pereira: Well, Comdabra is the acronym for Brazilian Airspace Defense Command, which deals with air matters. At a certain moment, those files were distributed to different bodies according to their interests [performance scope]. Those which were sent to Comdabra are those directly related to the Air Defense System and involve radars spotting objects, jets following something, etc. Other kinds of operations which had nothing to do with the country's Air Defense remain at the old SNI, currently the ABIN.
UFO: Have you seen the footages of a huge amazing spacecraft over Rio Amazonas made during Operação Prato [Operation Saucer]?
Pereira: No, I haven't had the chance. But I know they do exist.
UFO: But where are these footages?
Pereira: Comdabra has what was already shown to ufologists. And the Air Force Intelligence System, also based in Brasília, also has some materials.
UFO: Besides those pictures from Operação Prato [Operation Saucer] did you see any images obtained in other missions or generated by any other means?
Pereira: No, what I saw were only the pictures of Operação Prato [Operation Saucer]. Some of them were made public a little later. There were no other missions. Operação Prato [Operation Saucer] was the only one.
UFO: Regarding the Brazilian Committee of Ufologists (CBU) visit to Comdabra, Brigadier Atheneu Azambuja - then commander of that body-, reported that it was common to have Air Force jets taking off to identify “radar targets” being “hotel traffic” among them. We know that those words were used to describe several things including flying saucers. How many of these interceptions occurred every year in Brazil and what are the outcomes?
Pereira: Many. I remember one at moment. This is all automated, procedures are automated. This fact occurred in Anapolis (GO) a few years ago. There was a radar contact with “something” and the Air Defense determined a Mirage to take off from the air field of that town. The unidentified object was very close, it wasn't very far, almost in Goiania area. The radar could not determine the altitude, but only the position it was. The Mirage went up towards it as high as possible and reached 48 thousand feet [nearly 16km], which is its maximum altitude of operation and had to abort the search. The pilot said: “I reached 48 thousand feet and can't see anything. The radar says it's in front of me, but I don't see anything”.
UFO: The ground radar spotted a dot in that position. How about the Mirage's radar?
Pereira: Yes. The jet's radar informed the altitude it was, but it couldn't tell the altitude of the other contact which appeared in both radars. So it's very hard when you don't know where the target is. It could be at any altitude from 1000m on. I remember that episode very well. The pilot had visual contact with the object, a lightening spot at noon, at broad day light.
UFO: Was that a large object?
Pereira: Well, it was a bright spot whose size was impossible to tell because it would involve parallax. You cannot tell the size of something when you don't know the distance it is from you. The pilot says it was far away. “I see something here, but it is far, very far”, he said. And he was already at the maximum altitude of 48 thousand feet. A Mirage can reach 50 thousand feet, but that would be dangerous. I remember that taking off very well.
UFO: Brigadier, how many of these cases happen every year and what are the outcomes?
Pereira: I remember three or four like these. I don't know about the annual average [laconic], but it can be two or three each year. There's another thing, do you have information on any case involving the Brazilian Navy in Rio Amazonas?
UFO: In Rio Amazonas all we have are cases involving civilian ships. As for the Navy, we have one case occurred in Rio Paraguay, 1962, involving a ship captained by the late Captain Joao Maria Romariz. That ship was followed by a UFO near Forte Coimbra, a territory that now is part the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. This case is reported in the book UFOs: Arquivo Confidencial. Do you know of any specific case occurred in Rio Amazonas?
Pereira: Yes, and this case was “sealed” in the Navy, it was never disclosed. I had the information that one of those old corvettes, which sail very well, was involved in a sighting. That kind of ship could go to very far frontiers. A corvette like that was travelling at night when approached by a UFO that came very close. Things went mad, they say. The situation got very complicated for the captain of the ship because panic took over the crew in a very remote area. In that kind of place, the nearest Indian is a thousand kilometers away...