Cuba: UFOs, Ufonauts and a Compelling Documentary
By Scott Corrales
The island nation of Cuba is in the public eye once again due to a thawing in diplomatic relations with the United States following fifty years of animosity between the island’s Castro regime and nine U.S. presidential administrations. Embassies have opened in the respective capitals of both countries and the future looks guardedly promising.
As these developments occur in the political landscape, more information becomes readily available on the ufological sphere thanks to the efforts of Cuban researchers like Orestes Girbau, whose articles have been prominently featured in INEXPLICATA, the journal of the Institute of Hispanic Ufology. Mr. Girbau is a guiding light of the Asociación Cubana de Ufología (Cuban Ufology Association, or A.C.U. by its Spanish initials).
One of the most intriguing items of information – and clearly one of the most compelling ones – is a documentary created in 1997 after the island had experienced an intense wave of UFO activity, coinciding with the nearly non-stop UFO/paranormal activity in neighboring Puerto Rico. This visual work bears the title UFOs – in Cuba?
(OVNIS ¿En Cuba?) and runs only a few minutes short of an hour. It was directed and produced by Octavio Cortazar, Armando Linares and Hugo Parrado Frances, edited by Hector Falagán de Cabo and with modest but very effective special effects created by Miguel Coyula. It can best be described as a survey of the Nineties saucer/occupant wave, but alludes to a number of historical events that are not widely known outside the island.
Date: Sunday, October 15, 1995
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Torrente, Province of Matanzas
October 1995 would represent a significant date for Cuban ufology: the first mention of a traditional UFO occupant encounter in the mold of the 1973 UFO Wave. It involved a peasant named Alfredo Zárate, 74, who speaks on camera for the production.
"I happened to be cutting cane, and then decided to light a cigar," explains Zarate, walking across a field, followed by the camera. "That's when I saw a craft descending. Then, before it touched the ground, it braked and made a soft descent. When it landed, I saw a man emerge from it, from inside. He was camouflaged. he then turned around and went around the craft. I thought he was talking to another, but I couldn't see him. I suppose it took him around three minutes, more or less. Then he came around again, grabbed some grass, opened the door to the craft and went in. There was an outburst of air, the craft was lifted upward, and then a blast of fire followed. Blue fire. Then it vanished."
The camera focuses on the farmer as he recalls the astonishing event. "When the craft took off, I came to the spot [where it had been] and saw it had left some marks on the ground, right here where I'm standing," he explains, gesturing with his arms. "From that point on, well, the police got involved and measured, saying it was five meters long by two meters wide."
Zárate shakes his head. "No, it made no noise. All it did was give off a burst of air pressure, and the machine was lifted up. This was followed by a burst of flame and it took off. I didn't see it again. No, it wasn't an airplane or a helicopter, because I got to work with the Russians and got to see many machines there, and none of them resembled this. Since the day that device landed there, I've tried planted crops on the spot, but the seeds have been no good. I don't know if maybe they scattered something, or what. See how odd this is - on the site where the craft landed, it is more burned than anywhere else," he waves a hand over a discolored field of shoots." At this point the camera pulls away slightly and cuts to a new scene, discussing the fact that Cuba had not yet experienced the abduction phenomenon that was sweeping other countries. But elderly Mr. Zarate soon returns to speak about this possibility.
“A cousin of mine vanished,” he explains grimly, in profile. “I don’t know if it has anything to do with these craft or not. That’s all I can tell you. Here in this town, people brought it up after that vehicle had been here. People say it could’ve been that craft that took him away. I can’t say that it was indeed that craft, since I didn’t see it. They searched for him here, and they searched well. Here, anyone who gets lost in the wilderness is looked for by the people, and the Army goes out as well, because a battalion went in there. Plus the people. Look, that was from here,” Zarate gestures, pointing a finger in the air, “to way over there. People everywhere. Acre by acre, all the way in there [the wilderness]. Well, you can imagine the things people say about the craft maybe carrying him away and what not. But I don’t believe in that.” The honest famer looks away from the camera, perhaps to conceal his tears.
The October 18 1995 issue of the “Girón” newspaper summarized the case in a brief news item entitled “Ovnis en Jaguey?
” – Adolfo Zarate, a smallholder, who witnessed the strange event, says that he was working on his field when he witnessed the descent of a saucer-shaped object with the approximate size of a light car. According to the 74-year-old witness, the flying object remained on the ground for some minutes while a human-looking figure, dressed in camouflage and wearing a helmet, descended to collect plant specimens before returning to the ship. Zárate adds that the UFO began to rise immediately, issuing a strange buzzing sound and vanishing in a southward direction after an explosion. The authorities inspected the site and confirmed the existence of flattened grass and compacted earth.”
There is a sad follow-up to the Zárate experience.
The blog Ovnis Cubanos
) features an article written in June 2005 by Carlos Alberto Heredero García concerning a visit to Adolfo Zárate’s farm by the author and his friend Erick Mota. The two UFO researchers received a cold welcome from relatives who wanted no further association with flying saucers. They soon found that interviewing the elderly smallholder would be next to impossible, as he was in a state of depression and in poor health. Things had gone badly for him since the UFO experience, and he now regretted it. Mockery by the press and neighbors alike was worsened by the discourteous treatment he received by the island's scientific establishment, and journalists accusing him of trying to profit from the sighting.
UFO sighting reports were received from the localities of Puerto Padre, Majibacoa, San Antonio de los Baños and Florida (Camaguey Province) were received in following days, witnessed by civilians and military personnel on duty.
An even more spectacular case took place in mid-December 1995, when the EFE news agency reported that a UFO had supposedly to the south of Havana in a community known as Guara. The news wire noted that a number of non-human entities had emerged from the object, collected samples of vegetation, and –more disturbingly – had taken some people with them, a claim that was never confirmed. In the light of the disappearance of Adolfo Zárate’s cousin, one can only wonder.
Date: Summer 1990
Time: not specified
Location: not specified
A UFO abduction incident of a more familiar sort is also featured in the OVNIS-¿En Cuba?
Documentary. It concerns the experiences of Anisia Arias in late 1990, interviewed by the documentarians in what appears to be her own home, face to the camera without any form of concealment.
“I went out to the yard,” she explains in a melodious voice, “I looked up at the sky, saw a little light moving, resembling a satellite, toward the north, near the star Polaris. It stopped abruptly, went backward, descended, and remained stationary some 500 meters from where I stood, some 100 meters above the ground. That’s when I was able to make out its shape. It was semi-oval, disc-shaped, with a slightly bulging, dome-shaped upper section, made of a material very similar to aluminum, brilliant aluminum, surrounded by a halo that outlined its contour. Suddenly, before I had a chance to react, the object flew over to where I was at tremendous speed, coming to within 5 meters of where I stood. I found myself encompassed by its luminous halo, which was like a fog. I was able to see something inside the dome which I couldn’t quite make out. That’s when I lost consciousness. What happened, I do not know. What do I think happened? I don’t know that either. All I know is that when I came to, I was inside the house again. How I got there, I don’t know, because I was in the yard. I found myself inside the house like someone who has been dropped in from a height. I could feel my knees buckling, and I made a considerable effort to make myself rigid to recover and remain standing, which I was able to do. I breathed deeply, recovered, and was able to see that everything was very well lit. The object was outside the door. I heard a sound – a sound like a very high-pitched buzz. I knew it was behind me, but I was very afraid, and did not turn to look. I walked toward the living room, phoned my mother, and told her: “Quick, get up! There’s a fireball behind me trying to burn the house down.” I kept walking and exited through the bedroom door, looking at the ceiling for signs of fire, since the object appeared to be on fire, which wasn’t true. I then looked into the sky, into space, and was able to see the object flying away to the north, toward where it had come, near the North Star. I stayed in the yard, and when I tried to walk, I felt pain in my feet, as though they were very heavy. I could feel cramps traveling up my legs, like an electrical current. I felt extremely tired, overcome with sleep. My mother was asking me questions, but I couldn’t answer her. I wasn’t able to speak that night. I went to bed in my clothes.”
Mrs. Arias steeples her fingers and glances sideways. “The next day, I got up and noticed that the daylight hurt my eyes. I tried to remember, but I still felt tired and a little stupefied. I was able to recall what had happened with great effort, and I was able to see that plants that come into the object’s proximity were wilted. As the days went by, they kept changing color and dried up, until they were completely dry.”
Interested in learning more about her “missing time” ordeal, Mrs. Arias underwent hypnotic regression, a session of which is shown in the documentary. Lying on a pink patterned bedspread, eyes closed, the woman answers weakly to the hypnotist’s questions, with captioning on the screen to facilitate the viewer’s understanding of the session.
“They were blonde,” she mumbles. “I remember their faces. Blonde and skinny. They have equipment looking like radios. They were touching my arms, squeezing my face…they had me in a sitting position…white seats…[the craft’s interior]…is white and rounded…and the seats were white.”
We are then shown how the hypnotist brings the session to a close as Mrs. Arias starts breathing heavily, recalling how the entities inserted pins into her right hand.
In April 1982, as hundreds of residents of Havana took their nightly stroll along the seaside promenade known as the Malecón, there was a bright flash over Havana Bay which immediately caused them to think they were under attack. Warheads, however, did not drop out of the darkness. Instead, there was an overwhelming brightness which gradually coalesced into an image of the Blessed Virgin--more specifically, Cuba's patroness, la Caridad del Cobre--extending her arms toward the startled masses on the promenade, as she remained suspended in the night sky. Unlike traditional images of the Blessed Virgin, this one did not bear the Christ-child in arms, nor were there any other religious items (crosses, etc.) associated with it. The divine protector appeared to be wearing a snow white mantle which contrasted even more so against the prevailing darkness.
The story was featured in Las Nubes del Engaño
("The Clouds of Deceit"), one of the most important books written by Spanish researcher Andreas Faber Kaiser, who would meet an untimely end, allegedly at the hands of the intelligence services. According to Faber Kaiser, Cuban authorities did their best to suppress the story, but it reached Miami-based broadcasters WRHC and WQBA. Further reports indicated that the divine image was seen again days later at port of Mariel, where it was taken to be Our Lady of Regla. The consternation created by this second sighting caused soldiers to open machine gun fire against the image. At least one of these men would require psychiatric treatment as a result of this experience. Reports of similar responses were received from the cities of Guanabo and Trinidad as well.
Faber Kaiser suggested that a U.S. Navy submarine that projected an advanced holographic image as part of psychological warfare operations against the Cuban government. While it may be hard to believe in both the sophistication of such techniques, and the fact that their use would ever be authorized, the fact remains that it would be one--albeit the most spectacular--ever employed against that island's socialist regime. On February 2, 1962, the Pentagon authorized a number of psychological warfare techniques which ranged from bombarding the city of Havana with free plane tickets for destinations such as Mexico and Venezuela as well as photographs showing Fidel Castro entertaining foreign women in expensive restaurants.
The world is indeed a small place, and it shouldn’t cause us any surprise to find the answer to a riddle in an entirely different part of the planet. Manuel Carballal, a world-traveler and member of Spain’s 3rd generation of UFO researchers, happened to find himself in Mongolia on an unrelated mission when he had the opportunity to interview General Battsagan Tsiiregzen. The military man offered new information concerning the Havana psy-ops event of 1982.
General Tsiiregzen had been part of his country's diplomatic mission to Cuba at the time. He witnessed how a policeman drew his sidearm and fired at the apparition, being so unnerved by the event that he was hospitalized and given psychiatric treatment. A Russian sailor, informed the general, had a similar experience, due to his inability to fit what he was seeing within the Marxist-Leninist framework of his upbringing. The Mongolian attaché was also able to confirm another story--that a scuba diver who had been in the water in the vicinity of the apparition had lost consciousness and had been brought to an emergency room. According to the story, whenever the hapless diver opened his eyes, he would goggle as though witnessing a vision, and would then lose consciousness again.
In the city of Trinidad, southwest of Havana, strange phenomena apparently played out while the divine patroness cast her beatific gaze over the bewildered townspeople. There were reports of strange odors in the air and smoke issuing from the floors of every dwelling.
The amazing account by the Mongolian diplomat was included in Carballal's own book, Los Expedientes Secretos
(Planeta,2001), and he adds the highly intriguing detail that the U.S. intelligence community is believed to have planned a follow-up to its successful 1982 demonstration: to spread the belief among Cubans that Fidel Castro was the Antichrist foretold in the Book of Revelation, projecting a holographic image of Christ over the skies. It was believed that this "miraculous" event would unleash a rebellion that would overthrow the government.
Reports of gunfire directed against unidentified flying objects are also featured in the OVNIS - ¿En Cuba?
At 8 p.m. on December 14, 1995 the community of Guara, located south of Havana, had its daily routine interrupted by an unknown presence in the sky. People took to the streets to get a better view of the “light”, described as large and yellow, surrounded by smaller red lights. It hovered over the cane fields with the undulating motion so common to the phenomenon since its earliest descriptions. Local children interviewed for the project believed that the object was interested in taking sugarcane samples, and the mysterious visitor made no noise whatsoever as it maneuvered only inches over the crops.
“Some soldiers on duty opened fire against it,” says one of the youngsters, creating an imaginary weapon with his hands. “They fired flares (sic) at it with their rifles, but what [the UFO] did was scattered their bullets like this,” making another expansive gesture, “like when you’re shooting at something and a big light happens.” The documentary substantiates the children’s account with eyewitness testimony provided by their elders.
Objects were also reported in the village of Camacho, not far from Batabanó, where they flew over a shooting range, where villagers could hear soldiers opening fire against them. Ricardo Cala, who happened to be driving his truck toward the village, heard shouts coming from the men he carried in his payload. “In came a UFO, a saucer, and I was startled. I looked through the truck window, and when I saw that reflection, looking like a balloon, having a fully illuminated small base, flying past my vehicle. The time was between eight and eight thirty in the evening. It flew at some fifty meters from the vehicle, because it was really close by. The only thing was it didn’t let you get a better look at it due to the amount of light it put out. It made no noise and we felt nothing. We kept going and it paced us for some ten minutes, more or less. Then, as we entered the village of Camacho, that was when we heard gunfire. I wondered if that thing was doing the shooting, but no, there was a military unit nearby firing at it. Tracer rounds were visible, the tiny red light of the tracers, and fifteen seconds after the shooting started, that thing vanished out of sight.”
Mr. Cala also added to his testimony that the object’s presence had caused a blackout through the area, a peculiarity common to UFO cases elsewhere in Latin America.
There was also hostile response to unwelcome UFO activity in 1968, when objects of unknown origin buzzed a military facility on Cabañas Bay in 1967. The troops quartered at this installation were jolted out of bed shortly after midnight by a blast of machine gun fire from the sentry box manned by Isidro Puentes. A squad was rushed to the area, but the sentinel was not at his post. Dozens of spent rounds were later found in the area, completely crushed as if they had impacted a very solid object upon impact. Even more ominous was the discovery of burn marks that suggested the landing of a large object with an estimated weight of ten tons.
The missing guard was found later in the morning, completely unconscious. He was taken to a military hospital, where he remained in shock and unable to speak for nearly seven days. The hapless soldier was then transported to a neurology unit, where scans showed that he had no brain damage, but still remained unresponsive. When he finally emerged from his trance-like state, the soldier told the medical staff and investigating officers that he had seen "strange lights" behind the trees, and upon investigation, was faced with a large object shaped like a "luminous sphere." Believing that the object could be the spearhead of a U.S. invasion force, the soldier fired at it, and could remember little else.
Anyone interested in viewing the documentary can do so at: https://youtu.be/d4pJpcaCvFg
We would like to extend our thanks to the creators of this unique and extremely valuable tool for understanding the case histories of a society which has been largely closed off from the world for a number of decades.
OVNIS ¿en Cuba?.
Documentary. 1997. (55:45min)
Directed and Produced by: Octavio Cortazar, Armando Linares and Hugo Parrado Frances.
Editing: Héctor Falagán De Cabo.
3D Animation and Music: Miguel Coyula.
Titles: Richard Molina.
Special Assistance From: Laritza Ayupova, Lilly, Yamila Garzón.
TV Universitaria - AD HOC Video.