The IV World UFO Forum and the I UFO Summit of the Americas took place on the weekend of December 6 to 9 of 2012, in the scenic provincial city of Foz de Iguaçu in the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. Located near the borders of both Argentina and Paraguay, Foz is primarily known as the closest city to the magnificent Iguaçu Falls, one of the wonders of the natural world, three times bigger than Niagara Falls. Having attended and lectured in many conferences around the world during the past three decades, Brazil’s World Forum stands as one of the most important and truly international (there were speakers from fifteen countries from the Americas and Europe) UFO events anywhere.
What made this I UFO Summit of the Americas different from other ufological meetings was its quasi-official status, since it counted with many members and some heads or former heads of the official UFO agencies or departments that currently exist in many South American countries. For starters, right after the singing of Brazil’s National Anthem at the opening ceremony, there was a short power point presentation by a Captain from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), representing officially the institution on behalf of its Commander in Chief, Brigadier Juniti Saito, who was invited by the Forum’s Coordinator, the well known Brazilian ufologist and publisher A. J. Gevaerd. While the Captain’s presentation, which outlined the history of UFO research at the FAB and the current regulations to register and then release UFO files to the National Archives as contained in Brig. Saito’s Ordinance 551/GC3 of 2010, didn’t reveal any new information to Brazilian ufologists, the symbolism was nevertheless important.
The representatives from the various South American UFO agencies included Col. (Ret.) Ariel Sánchez, Director of the Uruguayan Air Force’s CRIDOVNI; Col. (Ret.) Julio Chamorro of the Peruvian Air Force, who was the first chief of that institution’s OIFAA; Andrea Simondini, a well known UFO researcher and also a civilian member of the Argentine Air Force’s CEFAE; Ecuador’s Jaime Rodríguez, a famous UFO journalist in his country who became the head of CEIFO thanks to his contacts with two presidents of Ecuador (the group is now in recess but it achieved the significant declassification of 44 UFO military cases).
Chile’s CEFAA, which is run by the Civil Aeronautics department DGAC, was not officially represented at the Forum. However, in my presentation “Your Need to Know” (timed with the release of my new YouTube series of the same name), I showed clips from the famous El Bosque footage case of November 2010; and a clip of my interview with its Director, General (Ret.) Ricardo Bermúdez (the full interview is published in the current issue of Open Minds magazine.) There was a speaker from Chile, the well known ufologist Rodrigo Fuenzalida of AION, who has participated in many TV shows and documentaries. A large contingent of ufologists came from neighboring Argentina (they held a panel with short presentations each), plus Andrea Simondini outlined in a full lecture the goals and limited results so far of CEFORA (the Commission for the Study of the UFO Phenomenon in the Argentinean Republic), to obtain the official declassification of UFO files in Argentina, which was patterned on a similar Brazilian campaign created a decade earlier, the “Freedom of Information Now” lobbying effort.
Other Latin American speakers included the famous TV reporter Jaime Maussán and Yohanan Díaz Vargas from Mexico and Ronald Maidana from Paraguay. Europe was represented by Roberto Pinotti from Italy, Gary Hesltine from England, Gábor Tarcali from Hungary and Capt. Julio Guerra and João Matos from Portugal. Besides myself, the USA was also represented by Steve Bassett of the Paradigm Research Group (PRG), who is well known for its exo-political lobbying. The Brazilian contingent was naturally quite large including Marco Antonio Petit, Ricardo Varela, Mónica de Medeiros and Dr. Gilda Mora, a clinical psychologist who worked with the late Dr. John Mack and is one of Brazil’s preeminent experts on alien abductions.
Gevaerd, Petit and other Brazilian speakers outlined the status of the campaign to obtain the release of official military UFO files. This campaign has been undoubtedly successful at least in part if we consider that about 5,000 pages of documents (with some photos, maps and illustrations), stretching from 1954 to 2010, have been released by the FAB. But Gevard explained that this number is comparatively speaking very small and he thinks that it represents perhaps only 10 to 20 percent of the total files. Moreover, only the Air Force has cooperated so far, neither the Brazilian Army nor the Navy have released any documents at all. While the FAB was in charge of most UFO projects, there are many stories and witnesses that point to UFO cases involving army or navy personnel.
All the speakers and a number of Brazilian experts (43 in total) signed the “Letter of Foz de Iguaçu,” addressed to the Minister of Defense, Ambassador Celso Amorim. After outlining the salient points of the evidence for UFOs and the official involvement by various Brazilian military agencies in the past, the Letter calls for “the total and unrestricted declassification of all the documents generated previous to this date [Dec. 9, 2012] to the Ministry of Defense in the context of the three armed branches, that could have any relation to the study of the UFO Phenomenon.”
Finally, the Letter of Foz de Iguaçu calls for “the establishment of a multi-disciplinary commission with the participation of the three Armed Forces [Army, Air Force, Navy] and members of the Brazilian Ufological Community, in order that the joint study of the manifestations of the UFO Phenomenon can proceed with military logistics and with the collaboration of ufologists and civilian scientists, in order to inform society.”
Regardless of the final outcome of the Foz de Iguaçu Letter, there can be little doubt that Brazil’s IV World UFO Forum and I UFO Summit of the Americas was a very important event. It shows the way to integrate slowly both the official and the private or civilian investigation of UFOs. South America is really leading the way in this area…