No. 50 19 May 2004
Eight soldiers in the north of Chile see two small
lights. The corporal in charge of the group disappears, to later return speaking
incoherent words. This is the plot of the "Valdés case". Twenty-seven years
after the best-known Chilean UFO story was first reported, some still try to
revive it despite the lack of new reports. Nevertheless, multiple incoherencies
in the account make the "abduction" of Cpl. Armando Valdés Garrido a complex and
By Diego Zúñiga C. / La Nave de los Locos
Translated by Richard W. Heiden
"AN ARMY corporal disappeared for almost fifteen minutes after a
visual contact with a UFO, when, with a patrol consisting of seven men, he was
carrying out guard duty near Putre. The UFO came down and almost landed at the
place called Pampa Lluscuma". (1) That is how the news article began that was
published Monday, 16 May 1977, by the daily newspaper La Estrella de
Arica, in the first press appearance of the overexposed case of the "Putre
UFO", or, as it has come to be known, the "Corporal Valdés" case.
report already spoke of extraterrestrial vehicles and ships, making futile any
subsequent effort to claim that there was no ufological contamination. For
example, the article spoke of "the young soldiers confirm[ing] the presence of
these extraterrestrial vehicles inland from Arica" (2) and said that the
supposed conversation between the "kidnapped" corporal and the crew members of
the UFO includes "words that could well represent the dialogue of an
extraterrestrial being". (1)
That report presents the body of what was to
become the case to this day. And not only does it tend to pro-ETH fantasy, but
it also begins to outline the spectacular embellishments, brimming with the
ufological subculture, that today its spoiled narration shows with impunity.
And, clearly, it possesses all the essential elements: an Army corporal
disappears in sight of his subordinates, to reappear minutes later with
several-days' growth of beard and a watch that showed an advanced
Here we will tell the story, to later examine it closely to find
its multiple incongruities. We will begin with a summary of what was published
in the press back then. It is the most faithful, detailed account that exists
with respect to what happened that early-morning Monday in autumn. Let us go to
the Pampa Lluscuma, a place located five kilometres (three miles) from Putre (a
town of fewer than 400 inhabitants at that time, and now just under 2,200), in
the First Region of Chile and some 150 kilometres (93 miles) north-east of
Arica, near the far northern border with Peru. Let us set our mental clocks to
the early morning of 25 April 1977. Like any night in the Andes foothills, the
thermometer showed several degrees Celsius below zero (between 5 and 20 degrees
Celsius below zero [between -4 and +23 degrees Fahrenheit]).
of eight soldiers, belonging to the Huamachuco Regiment mountain detachment, (3)
sought to escape the nocturnal freeze by taking refuge in the stables that the
regiment had in the area. They started a fire, around which remained Second
Corporal Armando Valdés Garrido and conscripted soldiers Julio Enrique Rojas
Suárez, Germán Riquelme Valle, Iván Robles Mella, Humberto Rojas Véliz, and Raúl
Salinas Vásquez, while soldiers Juan Reyes and Pedro Rosales Arancibia mounted
guard (4) some ten metres (33 feet) away, at the doors of the stables to keep
the horses from escaping. This was a prudent distance to maintain contact by
voice, as the night was too dark for the troops to see each other.
soldiers not on guard sang and joked with each other. Suddenly, shortly before
four in the morning, Pedro Rosales ran to Valdés to tell him, "My corporal...
come and see a light on the hill...!" Curious, the eight soldiers began to watch
the spectacle: in front of them, halfway up the hill, was a powerful light.
Valdés wanted to know how those "light bulbs" had got to that place. "We
suddenly saw that two stars began to slowly come down from the sky... One of
them went down on the other side of the hill and the glow is still seen there…”,
said Rosales and Reyes. The stronger light positioned itself about five hundred
metres (1640 feet) from the soldiers, and was described as an oval shape, some
25 metres (82 feet) in diameter and with a violet colour with two luminous
points of a deep red colour.
Before the events, Valdés had ordered the
covering of the fire with a blanket. Supposedly the light reacted, moving away
and approaching almost at once, always in the most absolute silence. Valdés, a
little agitated by the situation, shouted, "Approach and identify yourselves!",
without obtaining a response. Then, in the name of God, he asked the light to
withdraw. Nothing happened.
Then he advanced a few metres toward that
luminosity, disappearing suddenly. It was exactly 4:15 in the morning. (5) The
soldiers, surprised, supposed that the non-commissioned officer had walked
toward the other side. They passed fifteen minutes like that, after which they
called to Valdés and looked for him in the stable, without results. Until, the
same way he had left, he returned. They did not hear steps, but could hear
Valdés saying "boys...”, before collapsing unconscious.
picked him up and carried him over to the fire, or rather to what was left of
it. (6) There Valdés stood up, stared at his men, pop-eyed, and told them, "You
do not know who we are or where we come from... but I tell you that we will
return”. He laughed and according to the soldiers he had spasms and struggled
for them to let him loose, until he fell asleep. Soon after, while they were
covering him with a blanket, his subordinates noticed that the soldier had a
beard about five days old, even though everybody had just shaved. (7) Valdés
finally recovered at seven in the morning.
When he woke up, the
non-commissioned officer felt better. His beard remained as the only vestige of
the strange experience of the day before. His beard and his digital watch, which
was supposedly stopped at 4:30 a.m. on April 30, but which soon after would
again function normally. At least, this is what was claimed. It could not be
verified if the watch actually backed up to again show the correct date, and
Valdés says the watch was lost.
The light had disappeared when day
dawned, at about six in the morning, and Valdés now claimed "not to remember
anything from the moment when I moved away from you” (1). Different testimonies
gathered later claim that Valdés, once recovered from the impact, asked them to
saddle up a horse for him to inform the regiment what had happened. He made the
half-hour trip between the stables and the regiment alone.
The news of
the sighting reached the ears of Pedro Araneda, a crafts teacher deeply
interested in the subject of UFOs. The soldiers went to the ufologist's house to
tell him what had happened to them, primarily because Araneda was recognised for
his involvement in other cases in the area. So at about 9 in the morning he
spoke with the conscripts and showed them a book with pictures of UFOs, for them
to pick out the one most similar to what they had seen (!).
striking that the news - which made a big splash in the press - was published
only in the middle of May, no earlier than 23 days after the events. Why such a
delay, if Araneda was a "correspondent" on that subject for the newspaper La
Estrella de Arica, and he knew the story the very same day it
Pedro Araneda made a recording - 180 minutes long, according to
the press - with the testimony of the soldiers, in which Valdés claims that he
did not remember anything and only knew what his subordinates told him. (8) But
he added that he felt as if he had fallen into a deep well, and showed how
contaminated he was by extraterrestrial mythology when he indicated, "There was
not a word that was directed to me... If it is that those beings really
At La Estrella de Arica they took great pride in having
always published exclusives on UFOs in the area. Even today they continue using
Valdés in their feature stories, as a way of keeping in mind the "news high
spot" of 27 years ago. The zeal reached the point of publishing that "the
exclusivity of the news is, has been, and will be La Estrella de
Arica's.... Other versions are absolutely invented based on the data
published by us, save for those emanating directly from our daily newspaper".
By the same token, it is not surprising that a couple of months later
the appearance of the case in the National Enquirer attracted attention.
The reporters of this US tabloid submitted Araneda's tape recording to the
Psychological Stress-Evaluator (PSE), a "truth-detecting" device. (10) The
editorial line of La Estrella de Arica sought pro-UFO sensationalism, as
is confirmed by their giving space to supposed UFO photos every now and
At the time the
Valdés case came out, Chile was experiencing a real UFO effervescence, and the
news media were responding to popular interest with surveys, jokes, historical
reviews of the history of flying saucers, and other information about the
phenomenon. No one could say that the information about Valdés and his
subordinates is clean, ufologically virgin. Especially not after establishing
that already in La Estrella de Arica's edition of 17 May, its reporters
attributed to "the presence of the craft" (11) the supposed physical effects,
both in Valdés and in his watch.
It is also necessary to stress that the
protagonist of the story was previously interested in the UFO subject, at least
as an indirect witness to a true psychosis awakened by the "flying saucers”.
This is because of all the talk about UFOs in the newspapers and on radio and
television - everyone was talking about them. The reporters themselves proved
this when they wrote that "for him [Valdés]..., the movements of the
brightly-lit Unidentified Flying Objects are not a mystery".
contradicts some of his statements: "I know that I expose myself to being
laughed at.... But I was one of those who thought that I had to 'see to believe'
in UFOs... Now the conscripts and I have seen and we believe that behind that
light that visited us that night there is 'something' intelligent that comes
from another planet". (12) It is striking that Valdés should then request to be
submitted to hypnosis to remember the lost fifteen minutes (perhaps because of
the pleas of some "investigators" to do it, for the purpose of knowing what he
had experienced during those supposed fifteen lost minutes. Though other
investigators warned him that hypnosis could be dangerous). In the face of this
kind of statement, and especially because of pressure from the news media, eager
to know more details about such a spectacular piece of news, the Provincial
Government found itself obligated to respond.
OFFICIAL AND OTHER
INSTRUCTIONS OF THE
Circular No. 21 of the Provincial Governor,
Colonel Óscar Figueroa Márquez
Relative to the multiple articles
disseminated in the local daily newspapers on the appearance of
Unidentified Flying Objects - UFOs - in various localities of this
province, the undersigned Provincial Governor believes it necessary to
transmit to the Editor the following instructions:
All acts of
publication and declaration referring to this subject, should be made
known to the undersigned Governor prior to their publication, taking care
that such information be edited in a prudent tone, avoiding excessive
comments lacking scientific basis that misrepresent the reality of the
Which I communicate to the Editor for his knowledge and
fulfilment in accordance with the precepts established in D.L. [Decree Law
- Author] 12/81 of 11 Dec. 1975.
Greeting you respectfully [Yours
(s) Óscar Figueroa Márquez, Army colonel, Provincial Governor
On 17 May 1977, one day after the case was made known in
the daily La Estrella de Arica
, the Provincial Governor in that city,
Colonel Óscar Figueroa, sent Circular No. 21 to the news media, asking them to
forward articles to him for approval before publication, and requesting
moderation in the tone of the information. Figueroa ordered the texts to be
subjected to his scrutiny, making use of Decree Law 12/81 of Dec. 11, 1975 (see
This should not be surprising. The country was under the
dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, and the news media always had to pass
prior censorship, in most cases under the charge of DINACOS, the Dirección
Nacional de Comunicación Social (the National Administration of Social
Communication), an entity created by the government for such purposes. It did
not involve a specific example of censorship for fear of the Martians, but
rather the confirmation of a regular policy of the regime.
On the 18th,
the Office of the Commander in Chief of the Army handed out an official report
(see Box 2) that declared that what had appeared in the press was approximately
the same thing that the soldiers had said, and that the Army was not going to
make a statement with respect to the events. That was all. To be enthusiastic
about such a declaration is manifestly excessive. Despite this, many ufologists
see in this communication a historic landmark, a demonstration not only that
"They [the ETs] are here", but also that the military knows it, and hides it
from us. Nothing could be more absurd.
But the fuse was already lit, and
the news rapidly crossed the borders of Chile. The information appeared in the
newspapers of Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Canada, the United States, and
several other countries throughout the world, where it reached thanks to the
dispatches of various news agencies (ANSA, Latin, Agence France Press, EFE, AP,
UPI, etc). With some variations, they reproduced the "official" story, which has
also appeared (again with variations) in the books of Antonio Ribera (who spoke
of the case to the House of Lords All-Party UFO Study Group in 1979), Jenny
Randles, and several others.
The account was also told in various UFO
magazines, among them the February 1978 issue of the well-known Flying Saucer
THE FIRST SIGNS OF ALARM
A few weeks
after the encounter, Armando Valdés Garrido was sent to the capital of Chile,
Santiago, for the purpose of being admitted to the Military Hospital, though
some examinations were done in the Psychiatric Hospital. There he was seen by
psychiatrist Raúl Molina Bravo, who has declined to answer questions, on the
basis of doctor-patient confidentiality.
Even so, in a short interview
granted to the Santiago daily La Tercera de la Hora, Molina indicated
that Valdés suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, which is a "psychosis with
loss of a sense of reality, which is produced with a lucid consciousness". He
added that what Corporal Valdés had was "a typical lucid psychosis".
the years passed, more elements were added to the original account, which did
not give cause for the ufologists of the period to question the veracity, or at
least the credibility, of the version given by the principal witness.
Monday 11 February 1980, Valdés was working as an instructor in the Regimiento
Chacabuco, in Concepción, in Chile's VIII Region. There, along with other
soldiers and Captain Rodríguez Brunner, he sighted a strange phenomenon in the
sky. Years later the soldier would say that it was a triangular UFO, but he
clarified that "the UFO is not the triangle. That is only the beam of light that
they [the UFOs] emit". He added, in addition, that "wherever I am, strange
things always happen, related to UFOs". (13) The fact is that Armando Valdés did
not have reason to know that the "UFO" was nothing more than combustion gases
from the last stage of Cosmos 1164, which had taken off from Plesetsk, in the
Soviet Union, according to information from US researcher James Oberg.
those days, the same as now, some in the press claimed that to interview Valdés
one had to go to the President of the Republic himself, a post that at that time
boasted Augusto Pinochet. That is not true. The following sentence is extracted
from a letter sent in 1983 by the Vice Commander in Chief of the Army, Julio
Canessa, to reporter Juan Jorge Faundes, who went through channels to get a
conversation with the "abducted" soldier: "There is no restriction on the part
of the institution for Corporal Valdés to make his experience known.
Nevertheless, this Army officer has made manifest his desire not to be
THE ARMY OF CHILE
Press Bulletin No. 59 of the Department of Public
Relations of the Army and of the Chief Commander's Office.
face of numerous inquiries from the commercial communications media with
respect to the events that took place in the vicinity of Putre on 25 April
1977, to a military patrol, the following is clarified:
1- The Army
does not go on record with respect to the events related by the members of
2- From the moment the event occurred until it was made
known by the press, no official account on the part of this Institution
has been given;
3- In accordance with the consultations undertaken
officially, it is clear that the versions given by the press to date are
in general consistent with the accounts of the members of the
4- Statement transmitted Wednesday, the 18th of May, at 16:30
In the face of that letter, the protagonist
of this story granted an interview to Faundes in the city of Temuco, in the IX
Region of Chile, where he was assigned at that time. In the conversation, Valdés
acknowledged that he did not want to appear in the press and that he did not
want any more to be "Corporal Valdés who had that experience with a UFO in
Putre. I want to be simply Armando Valdés". Time would remove the veracity from
In 1993, now a sergeant, Valdés reappeared in the news media,
this time indicating that the "extraterrestrials will come back". Still in
Temuco, the city where he was to settle down for good after the end of his
military career, Valdés told a regional cable television channel that "They
[meaning the extraterrestrials] are going to arrive and it will be necessary to
be at peace with God", adding that when his daughter Angélica was sick, he
called upon the aliens, who healed her. (14)THE SHOW
MUST GO ON: TELEVISION AND THE BOOK
As a way of preparing the
ground for the supposedly imminent publication of a book with his testimony, on
Wednesday 16 June 1999, Armando Valdés Garrido appeared on the programme "De pe
a pa" (something like "From A to Z") on Televisión Nacional de Chile, which
reaches the entire country. Interviewed by the host of the programme, Valdés
indicated that he was going to speak now because "it is the moment, it is the
peak. It is the end of the millennium; something serious could happen, and I
think that now is the moment". On that occasion, many of the "details" that
Valdés had to add to the case to fit the times, would be in evidence. We shall
Asked how long he had been inside the "space ship", the ex-soldier
responded fifteen minutes. "In that thing that I had in front of me, it had a
subhuman [sic] intelligence, a not our human intelligence [sic]”, said a
confused Valdés to explain his feelings at the moment of facing what everybody
now characterises as the "ship".
As with any story, this one also has its
moral. "There is a message. In the universal order, under the powerful hand of
the creator, who is God, nothing happens just because.... The message will be
good or bad according to the point of view from which humanity takes it",
indicated the supposed UFO abductee, at the same time that he said he feared for
the future of humanity. Let us not forget that Valdés is a member of a
fundamentalist evangelical religious sect, the "Unión de Centros Bíblicos". At
any rate, this is not the most surprising part. There is still the main course:
the Ummite connection (yes, Ummite) and the men in black (yes, men in black).
And the most curious thing is that the two things are connected, as the men in
black visited Armando Valdés in his military office in Temuco (15) to tell him a
secret that only he knew. And what was the secret? The fear that the letter H
provokes in the "abductee".
Valdés indicated that he avoided the H on
heliports, and that on his billfold and on his brief case was a metal stamping
of an H without his being able to explain the motivations that caused him to do
that (Sic --this would seem to contradict his previously-described fear of the
letter H). These H's would be a symbol, "The name of a planet”, he maintained.
The letter H... on the bottom of the UFO of San José de Valderas... The H of the
Ummites... Who provides information about UFOs to Valdés? Can we trust his
Before leaving the television cameras, Armando Valdés
promised to publish a book with his version of the events by the end of 1999...
We are still waiting. At one time he thought to publish it on an Internet
Portal, but he had no luck. And until May 2003 he had a web site
(www.cabovaldes.com, not available now), he was advised by an agency, and had
his own representative, though all this seems to have fallen apart.
month before the appearance of the soldier on "De pe a pa", the program "OVNI"
("UFO"), on Televisión Nacional, showed the interview of two of the conscripts
who had been present on the night of the encounter. They were Raúl Salinas (now
a construction worker) and Humberto Rojas (now a retired non-commissioned
officer of the Carabineers, which is the uniformed police), both 42 years old at
the time of the interview (1999). On that occasion, Salinas showed that he was
not going to be a secondary character in this story, and indicated that he saw
Valdés fall from the sky: "As he is little [Valdés is a very short man, just
over 1.60 m. (5' 3")], I thought it was one of them", he said, referring to the
extraterrestrials. Salinas was the only one who saw Valdés fall from the
sky.A STRANGE CHARACTER: RAÚL SALINAS
Salinas appears on the scene for the first time on the television program
"OVNI". Since then, ufologists have set their eyes on this simple construction
worker, whose account, by moments incoherent, is plagued by extraordinary
elements, which include the visit of a strange woman called Amalia and trips in
flying saucers to other planets. But let's start from the
According to what Salinas said in an interview with members of
the now-defunct Equipo Superior de Investigaciones Ovnilógicas (ESIO, Superior
Team of Ufological Investigations), after leaving the military service that he
was fulfilling in Putre, he returned to his home some six months after the UFO
experience of April 1977 and fell into a deep depression. "At that time, when I
was like that, I opened the window [of the bedroom], looked upward, and spoke
with 'Them'. There was something intense with ‘them’", he indicated in a passage
of that conversation. Obviously, when he spoke of "Them", he was referring to
Salinas recovered from his depression and began to have, in
the early '90s, strange dreams about flying saucers that took him to the Andes
Mountain Range, in the company of a woman called Amalia,(16) who is moreover the
queen of a planet, with an Ummite-like symbol on her breast. According to
Salinas, the ship in which he travels is the same one that he claims to have
seen on the Pampa Lluscuma in 1977. He describes it as gigantic, the size of a
football stadium (i.e., a soccer stadium; he was referring specifically to the
immense Estadio Nacional de Chile). Salinas, who calls himself the messenger of
this strange civilisation, claims to have travelled to Amalia's world, where he
has seen nuclear explosions that could also affect our planet. In several
passages of the interview the ex-conscript repeated that he was waiting for the
time to go away with his friends, for whom he was ready to leave his
It is not surprising that Salinas thinks that the symbols he has
seen on and near his space companions are "Ummite words". The H, in effect,
would be a symbol that, according to the aliens, will protect him if he draws it
on the door of his house. His escorts, tall, with short white hair, blue eyes,
and with the lower part of their bodies similar to a kangaroo's, have predicted
to him that the year 2004 is going to have "something big", possibly the
explosion of an atomic bomb.
Certainly, as is common in this type of
situation, the narrators are capable only of cooking up a story to the extent of
their possibilities, and Salinas's account is rather basic, poor in nuance, and
somewhat rough.ATTEMPTS AT AN EXPLANATION, AND EXCESSIVE
The stories woven around the "Valdés case" have their
basis in the contactees and the unwillingness of some ex-conscripts or persons
connected to the subject to speak about it. There has been much speculation
about the motivations for this silence, and much has been written trying to
explain the phenomena that supposedly took place that cold early morning in the
Pampa Lluscuma. Some enlightenment in this respect has been offered by
researchers such as Argentine psychologist Roberto Banchs.
investigating the case, Banchs expressed some considerations, such as that Pedro
Araneda was known for being a fervent believer in flying saucers and
extraterrestrials. He also reminded us that the "strange" aspects put forth as
proofs, that is to say the watch that stopped and the beard that grew, "do not
amount to any kind of scientific evidence".
The first hypothesis that I
considered as a possible explanation for this case was that the early morning of
25 April 1977, had the brilliant presence of Venus and Mars, which could have
caused confusion among the soldiers. This is based on the fact that the
conscripts themselves, as part of the account, compared the light to stars. (17)
Also, let us not forget that a similar error ended up explaining part of the
famous case of Betty and Barney Hill. (18) Nevertheless, with the invaluable
help of Manuel Borraz, it was determined that that was impossible. Venus was not
visible until almost an hour after the time stated by the soldiers, and Mars was
practically imperceptible in the area that day. Moreover, their positions in the
sky do not match the UFOs', which were described by the witnesses as being
toward the north-east. So we are obliged to flatly discard this
Others, such as Chilean ufologist Jorge Anfruns, prefer more
colourful versions, and do not bother to look for explanations. Anfruns is
convinced that there were other military detachments nearby, and that those
soldiers experienced electromagnetic effects in their radio transmitters (which
in fact they did not have). Then it came out that Valdés was allowed to stay in
the Army to take military advantage of the "parapsychological faculties that all
abductees have”, and kept in guarded places so that the extraterrestrials would
not try to take him away again. No comment.VALDÉS FALLS
At the end of 1993, Argentine journalist Alejandro
Agostinelli (ufologist, editor of various UFO bulletins and then of El Ojo
["The Sceptical Eye"]) was able to speak with Valdés, whom he
sought out to re-investigate his story. Agostinelli recalls: "At that time,
Valdés insisted that he did not remember anything of what happened during the
lapse when he lost consciousness, added the curious detail according to which
those beings were somewhat demonic, and asked me to negotiate with Editorial
Atlántida, where I worked, for the disbursement of three thousand dollars, if I
remember correctly, in exchange for an exclusive report and the publication
rights for a book that he said he had begun to write".
apparent commercial interests behind Valdés's delayed intention to make his
experience known by means of a book, there are aspects of the account that were
never made known, were omitted, forgotten, or obviated by those who initially
had the job of investigating the story. One of the points most overlooked by the
works that have pretended to shed some light on this experience is that of the
social and historical context in which Chile lived at the time.
historic level, it is possible to point out that Chile suffered a complex
political-military situation. Not only was the country under a dictatorial
regime and a brutal repression, but also ties with neighbouring countries were
at a dangerously low level. For example, Chile had had no diplomatic relations
with Bolivia since 1962, and only in 1974 and 1975 was there some rapprochement
between the two governments. This did not bear fruit, complicating Chile's
international outlook, which turned dark when, at the beginning of 1977, Peru
made public a military treaty with the Soviet Union for more than 700 million
dollars, at the same time that Argentina threatened Chile's southern borders.
This obliged the Chilean military to give notice that, if there were to be a
conflict, it would be under the variables of the HV-3 (Hipótesis Vecinal 3, or
Vicinal [pertaining to the neighbourhood] Hypothesis 3), for dealing with a
possible bellicose confrontation with the three bordering countries: Peru,
Bolivia and Argentina.
This prospect made Chile reinforce the northern
front militarily, mining the borders and augmenting the personnel in the area.
Retired Army Brigadier General Pedro Durcodoy (a captain at the time of the
Valdés case) indicated to the television programme "OVNI" that the northern
front was reinforced "in secret, as we were not going to give information to the
adversary". This explains why it was said that the group of soldiers that
accompanied Valdés (an unarmed squad) was a "patrol" and not a "guard": simply
because a patrol is armed, and a guard could be armed, but not necessarily. It
was reported that they were an armed patrol because once the matter was made
public, it was necessary to take advantage of the opportunity to give the
impression that all the Chilean soldiers in the north were armed.
Flores, a soldier who was in the regiment when the Valdés case occurred,
indicated that "at that time Valdés did not own his own weapon, nor did the
service require a weapon. It is not like the guard, where the commander goes
around with his pistol and the soldiers with rifles". Flores even goes further
and confirms what was mentioned earlier: "The patrol is what has to go out to
travel over a specific place. What Valdés had was not a patrol but a squad on
duty in the stables. And their mission was to wet down a quantity of sacks of
oats, distribute them to the horses, and then clean up after them. They did not
carry weapons for that".
From what was said above about the
political-military situation in Chile, it is not wild to say that UFOs arrived
at the best moment, as they helped to loosen the tense atmosphere that abounded
at an official level. In this manner, the population could be distracted from
foreign conflicts, keeping them uninformed of the problems on the borders. The
military regime on more than one occasion used paranormal or similar subjects to
distract the public.
At the beginning of the 1980s a campaign was
undertaken to make people believe that the Virgin Mary was appearing in an area
in the V Region. The front pages of the newspapers were devoted to it, taking
space away from the economic crisis that was eating up the resources of the
Without in any way affecting the attractiveness of the well-known
"Valdés case”, it is true that a critical spirit in dealing with the central
aspects of the account has always been lacking. These include the subject of the
beard and the story of the watch. Unfortunately, they are both fundamental
pillars, and, nevertheless, there is no proof at all to verify the claims.
Likewise, it must be stressed that the work undertaken previously by ufologists
and interested persons was rather poor, to the point of never even including
details as basic as the cardinal point where the UFOs appeared or the day of the
week on which 25 April fell.
In addition to this analysis, it is worth
the trouble to point out two fundamental facts in the development of the story
of Cpl. Valdés:
- The roles of Pedro Araneda and La Estrella de
were of vital importance. Araneda showed pictures of UFOs to the
soldiers and ended up submerging them in saucer imagery, while the daily
undertook to inflate the case and take it to unsuspected limits.
and UFOs: his multiple testimonies in the press show that Cpl. Valdés, 23 years
old at the time of his UFO experience, did know about UFOs, contradicting those
who have attempted to present him as a "virgin witness". He is, strictly
speaking, a "repeater".
If the Valdés case were truly the appearance of
an extraterrestrial ship as they have tried to make us think, would it be
necessary to adorn it with so many mystifying elements? The obvious answer is
no. Not only is there a question if the soldiers actually saw something that
night, which is not at all certain, we have been able to establish some facts
that go toward weakening the credibility of some of the witnesses and,
therefore, muddying the case as a whole. Did they see an undefined stimulus in
the sky or was it all a sham? The only thing that is clear in all this imbroglio
is that, if a case is real, it does not need any embellishments. And the Valdés
case is full of embellishments that have been forgotten by believing ufologists.
Let each one reach his own conclusions.
1.Luis Maturana, Luis Daroch,
and Pedro Araneda, "Patrulla Contactó Con OVNI en Putre", La Estrella de
Arica, Monday 16 May, 1977, p. 10.
2. Ibid, p. 11
3. There are now in
the area two regiments, that of Infantry No. 4 "Rancagua" of the city of Arica
and the "Huamachuco" Regiment of Putre. The latter is where, at the date of the
"UFO encounter", the horses for military use were cared for.
4. In subsequent
testimony, ex-conscript Raúl Salinas assured that he was on guard. This claim,
to judge by the initial testimony and some later testimony, must be
5. One must now wonder who saw the time, and who would worry about
a detail like that under the circumstances. When the subject is seen like that,
the most prudent thing would be to take this detail as just another claim.
Wouldn't the fire have gone out when they covered it with the blanket? Perhaps
they carried him to next to the remains of the fire, but how could they see if
there was no moon, there was no fire, and there was certainly no electric light?
Maybe with the luminosity radiated by the UFO? A mystery.
7. There are
disparate versions about the beard. Sometimes it is claimed that the soldiers
had shaved in the morning, though Raúl Salinas says that Valdés shaved in his
presence at 6:00 p.m. For his part, ufologist Antonio Huneeus maintains that
Valdés had shaved at 9:00 p.m. on April 24. It is certainly difficult to think
that Valdés would have shaved in the desert, with the cold there and with frozen
8. This makes it clear that Valdés does not have anything to tell us,
or at least nothing that he did not hear from his own soldiers.
9. See Luis
Maturana and Luis Daroch, "Algo Me Atraía... Era Como una Comunicación Interna
Con la Luz", La Estrella de Arica, Thursday 19 May 1977, pp. 8 and 9 (p.
8 for this information)
10. Michael J. Hoy, "Soldier Snatched by UFO Loses
Five Days of His Life--In 15 Minutes!", National Enquirer (Lantana,
Florida), 28 June 1977, p. 33. Reproduced in the Aerial Phenomenon Clipping
& Information Center's monthly newsclipping compilation (Cleveland, Ohio),
July 1977, pp. 10-11. See the Enquirer's defence of this report in an
article by John Holusha for the Washington Star (datelined Lantana, Fla).
Reprinted under the headline "Enquirer thrives on 'good' news" in the Appleton
(Wis.) Post-Crescent, 24 July 1977
11. Luis Maturana and Luis Daroch,
"Ahora Creemos Que Hay Alguien Inteligente en Otros Planetas", La Estrella de
Arica, Tuesday 17 May 1977, p. 8
12. See La Estrella de Arica,
Tuesday 18 May 1977, p. 8. It would be nice to know the basis for these
13. See Juan Jorge Faundes, "He Estado Huyendo Todo el Tiempo”,
Santiago de Chile, La Tercera de la Hora, "Revista Buen Domingo" section,
in the series "Los Extraterrestres”, Sunday 2 October 1983.
14. The girl had
a problem with her blood, which was treated in the Hospital Naval de Talcahuano,
15. This was in his office of the Tucapel Regiment, in Temuco.
This caused many to raise their eyebrows in doubt: the aliens would have eluded
the heavy military guard.
16. Salinas is inconsistent about the name of the
woman, as sometimes he calls her "Amalia" and other times "Malla".
course, neither Venus nor Mars are stars, but that term is commonly given to any
point of luminosity in the sky. Hence the connection. See Luis Maturana and Luis
Daroch, "Patrulla Militar Vio Otros OVNIS Antes del Contacto", La Estrella de
Arica, Friday 20 May 1977, p. 10
18. Robert Sheaffer, The UFO Verdict:
Examining the Evidence, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 1981. Chapter 5,
"Close Encounter of the Third Kind: Abduction!" pp. 33-49. Specifically p. 35
for passage attributing the "UFO" to Jupiter.
- Anfruns, Jorge, OVNIS,
Extraterrestres y Otros en Chile, Editorial El Triunfo, Santiago, n.d.
Cavallo, Ascanio; Salazar, Manuel; and Sepúlveda, Óscar, La Historia Oculta
del Régimen Militar, Editorial Grijalbo, Santiago, 2001
- Faundes, Juan
Jorge, Ustedes Nunca Sabrán..., Editorial del Pacífico, Santiago,
ADDITIONAL NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES, ETC.:
Anonymous, "Cabo de Putre Vio Otra Vez un OVNI", El Mercurio de
Antofagasta, Thursday 14 February 1980
- Anonymous, "Circular Instruye
Sobre Informaciones de OVNIS", La Estrella de Arica, Wednesday 18 May
1977, p. 8
- Anonymous, "Habla el Psiquiatra de Cabo Valdés", La Tercera
de la Hora, Santiago de Chile, "Revista Buen Domingo" section, the series
"Los Extraterrestres", Sunday 23 October 1983
- Anonymous, "Sacó el Habla Ex
Cabo Secuestrado por Platillo Volador en el Norte", La Cuarta, Santiago
de Chile, Thursday 14 January 1993
- Aravena M., Mario, "Misterio en torno a
bote vacío/ En Penco se posó en el mar; militares también son testigos", La
Tercera de la Hora, Santiago de Chile, Wednesday 13 February 1980 (datelined
Concepción). See also version in English: Richard W. Heiden, "Chilean G.I.'s UFO
prophecy proves correct", New York News World, 12 February 1983, UFO
Supplement, pp. 6 and 8
- Banchs, Roberto, letter to the Nueva Imagen
production company, 5 May 1998
- Honorato, Pablo, "Quince Minutos en el Más
Allá...", magazine Qué Pasa, No. 318, the week of 26 May to 1 June 1977,
- Paredes, Gabriela; and Guillermo Jiménez, "Extraterrestres
Volverán", La Tercera de la Hora, Santiago de Chile, Friday 15 January
1993, p. 12
of Raúl Salinas by the Equipo Superior de Investigaciones Ovnilógicas, ESIO,
September 8 and 10, 1999
- "OVNI", Televisión Nacional de Chile, Thursday,
May 20, 1999
I wish to express
my deep debt to these persons for their help: Patricio Abusleme, Alejandro C.
Agostinelli, Roberto Banchs, Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, Manuel Borraz, Luis
González, Richard W. Heiden, José Mateluna and Tamara Núñez.
is the editor in chief of the Chilean ufological bulletin La Nave de los
Locos (http://www.lanavedeloslocos.cl - email@example.com)