The small town of Varginha, in the state of Minas Gerais, is not particularly pretty. It has no tourist attractions. And actually, Varginha could very well cross history without ever being noticed by the rest of Brazil – let alone the world. But that changed on January 20, 1996, when the town became the stage of the most famous Brazilian UFO incident.
Three adolescents claimed that they saw a strange being. The creature was short and had V-shaped feet, horns and red eyes. “It wasn’t a man or an animal. It was something different,” they said at the time. Overnight, the three young women put Varginha on the map.
Reports about creatures and UFOs, military operations, strange coincidences, and mysterious deaths followed January 20. In fact, many questions remain unanswered to this day.
Something weird did happen in 1996
The UFO incident in Varginha began when two sisters and a friend saw a strange creature. That encounter unchained a series of events upon which the Brazilian media feasted, and hysteria spread throughout the residents of Varginha. It didn’t help that the Brazilian Army made a spectacular and costly operation to investigate the case.
Within 24 hours, more reports about UFO surfaced. A couple of farmers said they saw something resembling a gray spaceship flying over their cattle. “The cows are running from it. The object was surrounded by fog, but had no lights and didn’t make any noise,” explained one.
Moreover, another strange creature was reported next to the city’s zoo. Then, animals began to die for no apparent reason.
All these incidents, of course, remain unproven. According to Marco Petit, a Brazilian ufologist, that’s because of a government cover-up operation. In a book called “Varginha, toda a verdade revelada” (literally “Varginha, the entire truth revealed”), he says that the case is bigger and more important than people think.
“The military’s high command took part in the case. I present their names so people won’t say I’m kidding about ufology,” he told G1 in 2015. Petit points out that some reports stated that the military found a spaceship and captured part of its crew.
Rumor has it that the bodies of the extraterrestrials were examined by Doctor Badan Palhares, who was Brazil’s leading forensic expert at the time. Palhares, however, has always denied the claims, calling it “utter nonsense.”
The military’s official version
In October 2015, weekly magazine IstoÉ publish an article containing official documents from the Brazilian Army. According to the official reports of the time, the “creature” that the three young women saw was not an ET. It was, in fact, a man who suffered from mental illnesses and lived next to the vacant lot in which they had their “close encounter of the third kind.”
A Brazilian Roswell?
Although every single one of those claims remains unproven, the incident catapulted Varginha into the limelight as a spot for UFO believers. The Wall Street Journal even described the town as “a hot spot in the intergalactic search for intelligent life.”
Whether the Brazil UFO incident was true or false never mattered for the city. The city was smart in trying to capitalize on it. Until this day, local vendors sell dolls of the “Varginha ET,” as Brazilians call it. Restaurants and stores have alien-themed decorations.
In 2001, the Mayor’s Office inaugurated a 12-meter high glowing tower in the city’s central square (you can see it on the main photo of this article). Its shape? You guessed right, a spaceship.