Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Implications of Brazilian Disclosure: Part One

First, I want to apologize for my recent lapse in activity (is anyone still listening?). Schoolwork demanded my attention until only a few days ago, and I am now at my parents' house in suburban Ohio. Let's hope I have more time and energy for this blog during these summer days.

On 19 May 2005, A. J. Gevaerd, editor of Revista Brasileira de Ufologia (Brazilian UFO Magazine) and head of the CBU, Comissão Brasileira de Ufólogos (Brazilian Committee of UFO Researchers), sent a brief note to UFO UpDates. It begins:

Dear colleagues of the international UFO community:

This is a very short note to let you know that the Brazilian Government, through the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), will finally do its formal official UFO disclosure, tomorrow, May 20. The disclosure is the direct result of the intense pressure by UFOs: Freedom of Information Now, the campaign started by the Brazilian UFO Magazine in April 2004, and co-ordinated by me. It has been a long year of much work for us to reach this point.
It's unsurprising that no one in my university dorm, in any of my classes, or in my family eventually heard about the 20 May disclosure event in Brazil. Popular American media did not report on it, and only select independent sources (mostly UFO-related) discussed the event.

But make no mistake about it: Brazil is now among a handful of countries, including Mexico and Belgium, which has officially acknowledged the validity of the UFO phenomenon. 20 May 2005 is a historic day in global ufology.

This is part one of a three-part series on Brazilian disclosure and its implications for American ufology. Part one analyses the Brazilian Ufology Manifesto presented by the CBU to the Commander of the Brazilian Air Force. Part two examines the conditions for disclosure that prompted the Brazilian Government and Air Force to agree to disclosure. Part three determines whether such conditions can be duplicated to any degree in countries without disclosure, most notably the United States.

The Ufologist's Party: the Brazilian Ufology Manifesto

The Brazilian Ufology Manifesto was presented by six ufologists--A. J. Gevaerd (coordinator), Claudeir Covo, Marco Antonio Petit, Rafael Cury, Reginaldo de Athayde, and Fernando de Aragao Ramalho--to the Commander of the Brazilian Air Force, Air Brigadier Luis Carlos da Silva Bueno on 20 May 2005 in Brasília, the Federal Capital of Brazil. It seems to be the unifying document representing the collective efforts of Brazilian ufologists, establishing an ufological state of affairs--a "what we know" kind of declaration--recommending official policy action, and requesting files on at least three Brazilian cases. For these reasons, I have chosen to break it down, review it, and determine its potential application to American ufology.

The manifesto begins:
The Brazilian Ufological Community, represented by individual ufologists as well as by research groups, investigators, scholars, and people interested in Ufology who undersigned the document prepared for this purpose, expresses its opinion by means of this document prepared under the coordination of Revista UFO in order to address Brazilian authorities represented herein by the eminent President of Brazil and the eminent Commander of the Air Force, to present the following:
The first noteworthy element of this paragraph is the phrase "Brazilian Ufological Community", a phrase which seems (I can't say for sure) to suggest a somewhat unified collective of ufologists. I doubt any American ufologist is capable of, let alone comfortable with, arguing for an "American Ufological Community". The intra-field division and animosity prevents any such "Community" from emerging. Orthodox UFO researchers who dismiss exopolitics are one potential--albeit inconsistent still--community, while exopoliticians comprise another. Questions of government involvement, document authenticity, and research priority separate us. Do these issues not divide Brazilian ufologists, or is their community small enough that such issues can be handled collectively and appropriately without causing splinter groups?

Regardless of the size, the Brazilian Ufological Community, as the above paragraph says, includes "research groups, investigators, [and] scholars". Could we envision an American Ufological Community comprised of MUFON, CUFOS, Stanton Friedman, Richard Dolan, and Michio Kaku? Either Brazilian ufologists are simply more cooperative or they are not dealing with the same issues as American ufologists. Nevertheless, the confidence with which the undersigned researchers are able to present their manifesto is admirable and worth considering as a characteristic of their national community.

The first point of the manifesto states:
(1) It is widely known that the UFO Phenomenon, noticed with the constant visits of spacecraft to our planet Earth, is genuine, real, and consistent, and so is independently confirmed by civil ufologists, as well as by military authorities worldwide for more than 50 years.
As a foundational assertion, this statement will be disputed by many ufologists for its conclusion that "the UFO Phenomenon" is synonymous with "constant visits of spacecraft to our planet Earth". Arguably, no one has proven that any UFO sightings or cases in history have been material vehicles--although many argue that enough evidence exists to support this conclusion. What is indisputable about this first statement is the UFO phenomenon as "real, consistent, and independently confirmed by civil ufologists, as well as by military authorities worldwide for more than 50 years." The phenomenon is indeed "real", evidenced by the ever-growing archive of sightings.

The second point states:
(2) The Phenomenon had already had its origin sufficiently identified as far from our planetary borders. The spacecraft which so insistently visit our planet come from other civilizations, perhaps technologically more advanced than ours, and inhabit the same universe we do, although we do not know their worlds and origins.
This second assertion continues to carry the previous statement/assumption that at least some UFOs are spacecraft from beyond our planet, and that these craft are "perhaps technologically more advanced than ours". It is a common claim that ET craft would have to be more advanced than any craft currently in production by any nation on earth; how else could such beings travel from their solar system to ours? Therefore, it is plausible to state that, if some UFOs are ET-piloted vehicles, then these craft are more advanced than any known craft on earth. Nevertheless, as the above point says, these "spacecraft", if they prove to be vehicles, do "inhabit the same universe we do, although we do not know their worlds and origins." Whether this second point continues the same problematic conclusion as the first depends on which ufologist you ask. Stanton Friedman has concluded that "SOME UFOs are alien spacecraft" but Paul Kimball has not (right, Paul?).

Point three states:
(3) Such civilizations are in a clear and unquestionable process of continuous approach to Earth and to our planetary society and, by acting this way in its maneuvers and activities, in most cases do not show any hostility to us.
This third statement, following the logic of the previous two, depends on the accuracy of the notion that at least some UFOs are ET-piloted craft. If at least some UFOs are indeed ET vehicles, then it is logical to say that such beings are engaged in an "unquestionable process of continuous approach to Earth"; the history of sightings and encounters, if nothing else, proves the consistency, the "continuous approach", of the UFO phenomenon. Furthermore, if some UFOs are ET-piloted, then it stands to reason that they could, if armed, attack human society and, if the folklore is at all accurate, re-assign us a new place in the food chain. However, the vast majority of UFO cases do not include any sign of hostility or animosity.

Point four states:
(4) It is clear that visits from such non-terrestrial
civilizations to our planet are gradually increasing over the last years, according to domestic and international statistics, both in number and intensity, consisting of something which requires legitimate attention.
Despite the current focus on high-profile cases like Roswell and MJ-12, UFO sightings continue to be reported and archived. The UFO phenomenon is by no means confined to 1947. It is a testament to American ufologists' determination and stubbornness that the same cases, for the most part, are rehashed year in and year out. Perhaps we need to organize a concerted effort behind arguments like Paul Kimball's "Will Ufology's 'Deep Throat' Please Step Forward?" and "Majestic 12 - R.I.P.". Why are such posts not the subject of discussion on UFO UpDates? Why can't we collectively discuss a single topic, exhaust our avenues and resources, and then move on to the next as a well-informed "Ufological Community"? Am I too idealistic or is everyone else too stubborn? Let's engage each other and not just ourselves. If every frequent UpDates visitor agreed to work on a single topic for one month, then I believe we might know something like progress in this complex field.

Point five states:
(5) Considering all this, the establishment of an official program for acknowledgement, information, research, and public disclosure of the subject is urgent, in order to clarify to all Brazilians the undeniable and ever increasing extraterrestrial presence in our planet Earth.
The question of whether an official government-sponsored UFO research program is the best approach to the study of UFOs is a difficult one to answer. Can an ufologist trust a national government and military to assist in the fair and accurate study of UFOs? In the United States, the government has been, if nothing else, less than cooperative in working with ufologists and releasing UFO files. That does not mean a possibility for government-civilian collaboration does not exist. It only means that we should be careful, and isn't that an ufological mantra anyway? Nevertheless, in the case of Brazil, the "establishment of an official program for acknowledgement, information, research, and public disclosure" is a compelling and encouraging development, one that will have to be carefully monitored to ensure productivity and honesty.

The next paragraph reads:
Thus, considering measures publicly adopted in different moments of our History by countries like Chile, Belgium, Spain, France, Uruguay, and China, which already acknowledged the seriousness and urgency of the problem, we respectfully recommend the Command of the Air Force of the Federative Republic of Brazil, or any of its bodies, from now on, to prepare an appropriate policy to discuss this issue in the necessary environments, formats, and levels.
It is strange to me that no effort has been made by "disclosure nations" to appeal to "non-disclosure nations". If additional countries continue to publicly and officially recognize the validity of the UFO phenomenon--as I believe they will--then it is (or at least should be) a matter of time before such countries address those nations which have yet to allow disclosure. Multiple national communities pressuring one national government is more productive than the scattered efforts of civilian ufologists under that one national government. If American ufologists cannot make disclosure happen in the States, then perhaps American ufologists AND the international community can make it happen. To ignore the achievements and techniques of other countries only reflects our egocentric approach to a phenomenon which is simply too complex to allow for international competition among civilian ufologists.

The next paragraph reads:
The Brazilian Ufological Community, in the name of all undersigned participants of the aforementioned document, with full support of the worldwide ufological community, wants to voluntarily offer its knowledge, efforts, and dedication in order to make this proposal a reality so that we have the immediate acknowledgement of the UFO Phenomenon.
Noteworthy about this paragraph are the words "with full support of the worldwide ufological community". I am hesitant to share the author's optimism towards a "worldwide ufological community". Yes, American ufologists communicate with British ufologists who communicate with Brazilian ufologists, but is there a global community surrounding the global subject of UFOs? Is such unity even possible? I am not suggesting a dismissal of nationalized UFO communities; obviously those are necessary to achieve, or to help achieve, the kind of disclosure Brazil is experiencing. However, the possibility for a global response from united national communities is certainly worth investigating. For all the disagreements regarding methodology, approach, knowledge, and content, one underlying fact remains the same: UFOs exist, in one form or another, and every ufologist, whether she considers herself a conventional document researcher, an exopolitician, or a proponent of cosmic consciousness, is seeking a similar fundamental truth: the nature of UFO existence.

The next paragraph reads:
Thus, as a foundation stone in this process, which is to be the symbol of a positive action from our authorities, the Brazilian Ufological Community respectfully asks the Command of the Air Force to disclose its files concerning at least three specific episodes, which are specifically significant about the presence of unidentified flying objects in our Territory:
I'm not informed enough to discuss the three cases mentioned by the authors of the manifesto, but I will say that their deployment of "three specific episodes" is an effective technique of information-gathering without saying, we want everything now. Furthermore, it is important to note, as the authors do, the symbolic value of official disclosure and recognition. If the majority of the public needs governmental or major media acknowledgement to deem something "true", then governmental disclosure of UFO files and recognition of the phenomenon's validity serve not only to advance the scientific study of UFOs but also to help remove the cultural stigma on the phenomenon and on those who research it.

The manifesto concludes with a brief description of each case mentioned by the authors: the "Operation Prato, carried out by the I Regional Air Command (COMAR) of Bel=E9m (PA), from September to December of 1977"; the "mass ufological wave [which] occurred in May 1986 over the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo"; and the "Varginha Case, [which] happened in that city in the state of Minas Gerais on May 20th, 1996".

The final paragraph reads:
Being absolutely aware that Brazilian civil and military authorities have never neglected the situation which has been monitored with care and attention throughout last decades, and on behalf of the Brazilian National Security, we consider that the measures aforementioned are to establish the beginning of a prosperous and profitable partnership.
The question remains whether a "prosperous and profitable partnership" will emerge in the years to come, and whether such a relationship is possible in major non-disclosure countries such as the United States and England. However, what is clear is the collective efforts which were needed to start the disclosure process in Brazil. Is that kind of organization and cooperation possible among current American ufologists? Is disclosure even the goal?

In a 05 August 2004 post to UFO UpDates, Greg Boone writes:
Perhaps we need to reach out more. I know the lines are thin and resources sometimes scarce but I think if all the media folks from Noory to Bell to Rense to Errol and so forth teamed up and put that reach out there it would really be a blockbuster of a force to be reckoned with. It'd be a new news service like no other because it's what "the people" are interested in.

Strength in numbers.
In part two, I will examine, to the best of my ability, the conditions for Brazilian disclosure which were cultivated in the months prior to 20 May 2005.