Interview with Colonel Ariel Sanchez, chairman of the Commission for the Reception and Investigation of UFO Reports (Cridovni) "One of the smallest countries in South America, Uruguay is also the place where the military are more open-minded towards the UFO Phenomenon. UFO occurrences are investigated by the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU) as part of their routine activities. This interview was published in two parts in the Brazilian UFO Magazine editions 185 and 186, February and March 2012".
Few people know that a small country in South America has an official office for flying saucer research as part of its Air Force. The office is continuously operating since 1979 when it was established by the president of the Republic himself. That’s right: it has been more than three decades since the Committee for the Reception and Investigation of UFO Reports (Cridovni) operates in Uruguay. Only three other similar institutions are known in the continent. These are the Center for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (CEFAA), established in Chile in 1997 and working within the country’s General Civil Aviation Office; the Office for the Investigation of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (OIFAA), in the Peruvian Air Force (FAP); and an Argentine committee created last year but still under development.
All of the examples above are generally ignored by the worldwide UFO community. Those nations have official bodies openly exploring the possible extraterrestrial origin of UFOs. The same has happened in Brazil in the 50s and the 60s, and something similar in the 70s. To uncover these initiatives and to try to make Brazilian authorities engage again in official investigations of the UFO Phenomena was some of the purposes of the campaign “UFOs: Freedom of Information Now”, released in 2004 by the Brazilian Committee of UFO Researchers (CBU). Its goals were the declassification of official UFO files — already achieved — as well as establishing an official body for UFO investigation in the country. Although Brazil had openly acknowledged the issue and released documents dated from 1950 to 2010, the country still misses an institution like Cridovni, CEFAA or OIFAA. In fact, it was promised back in May 2005 by Brigadier Luis Carlos da Silva Bueno, former Brazilian Air Force (FAB) commander. We still wait for the fulfillment of that promise.
A skillful researcher In 2010 I was in Montevideo to make a presentation on the Brazilian process of UFO disclosure. I took that opportunity to better understand the work of an official UFO research institution, since they include civilians in their ranks. That time I interviewed the chair of Cridovni, a FAU officer who is also an ufologist and a gifted speaker. He was many times in Brazil presenting the works of the body he runs — yes, he is also a common presence in international conferences.
The opportunity of interviewing Coronel Ariel Sanchez at the headquarters of his Committee at the Boiso Lanza Air Base, 30km from Montevideo, was a great one. We had a long talk just like the ones I had with other military in Brazil and abroad, a kind of talk which is significant to increase transparency on UFO issues. The interview was actually a three-hour friendly chat followed by a lunch in the air base and a tour around its facilities. “We keep no secrets and it is a pleasure to show UFO Magazine everything we do”, said Sanchez on the way to his country’s air traffic control center — also located at Boiso Lanza.
Ariel Sanchez has been international correspondent of the Brazilian UFO Magazine for over a decade and holds a reputable background in UFO experiences. His post as the chair of the Uruguayan Committee makes him a unique person. “Our files contain any kind of UFO cases you would see in the X-Files”, he says. It is very much true as you will see below. He and his team — including Lt. Daniel Silveira, also a consultant to UFO Magazine —, are like Mulders and Scullys, as thorough researchers as those could be.
Professional ufologists It was interesting seeing how Cridovni works. Its members are professional ufologists, since they are paid by FAU. In fact, they are regular Air Force staff dedicating part of their time to UFO research and standing by for any call. When reported any occurrence they go after it in uniforms and official vehicles. They interview witnesses, collect samples, gather data, and then start a thorough investigation following strict methodological standards. Uruguay is a model to be reproduced by every country in her continent.
Another good example to be taken is their I International Congress on Investigation of Aerospace and Terrestrial Phenomena, organized by Cridovni, in Montevideo, in November 2010. That was the first Ufological event in the world known to be supported by a military branch — the Air Force in this case. The audience was filled with military garments. There is yet another thing: in order to extend the outreach with-in its little country, Cridovni established a civilian section — the Regional Center for Investigation of Aero-space and Terrestrial Phenomena (Crifat) is operating for 10 years now. “We still got no answers regarding the UFO phenomenon, what these vehicles and their origin are, but we keep on researching with the utmost disposition”, says Sanchez before adding, “As men at the service of Uruguay we must be impartial. We don’t encourage or discourage any particular point of view”.
An open mind towards new ideas Regarding the Congress held in Montevideo, Coronel Ariel Sanchez says “I wanted it to be as open as possible”. The event attracted big names of South-American Ufology. Although Cridovni adopts a scientific approach towards the UFO phenomenon, its members keep an open mind and agree to discuss Ufology with representatives of many other lines of interpretation. Sanchez confirms they have received over 2200 re-ports so far including photos and videos that reach the office every day through letters, e-mails and phone calls. “However, we still haven’t found any evidence of direct contacts with ETs”.
Also an air traffic controller, Sanchez narrates intriguing cases in his country. Some of which involve military and civilian aircraft in events that endangered flight security. “We had to report the facts immediately to the Air Force commander who contacted the Defense minister who, in turn, contacted the President”, he says regarding a case involving a Lufthansa aircraft in 2007. Coronel Sanchez reveals that Cridovni works in partnership with civilian research groups and official institutions in other countries. In summary, he tells of how an official UFO research institution should be — just in case other military abroad need an example. Below we share his interview.
Uruguay has a unique approach towards UFO research by officially responding to occurrences as soon as possible and applying a military methodology to it. We could call you the real “X-Files”. Tell us, Coronel Sanchez, how does it feel to be an “official ufologist”, a person to whom Ufology is also a military mission? Despite the responsibilities as representatives of the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU) we have a normal life. We are the State of Uruguay when issuing reports on our findings. The Committee must adopt a certain approach towards witnesses and media. Most of all, we must be impartial and objective when handling the UFO issue. This is meant to not encourage or discourage investigations. Also, we release information collected in the field in the most serious manner. As representatives of FAU we should not rush into conclusive reports when more investigation is needed. We must be unbiased in our work and this is not meant to withhold information. Instead, this is in order to better inform the people as they deserve our respect.
The full length interview is here to be downloaded: www.ufo.com.br/public/sanchez/ © A. J. Gevaerd, editor of the Brazilian UFO Magazine Translated by Eduardo Rado, from the Brazilian UFO Magazine All rights reserved