The Varginha UFO incident was a mass-media information incident, mainly by TV, in Varginha, Brazil, in 1996 involving popular reports of unidentified flying objects and strange creatures (allegedly extraterrestrials) which were supposedly captured by Brazilian officials. However, no Brazilian officials affirm the unusual history.
The case generated extensive publicity in Central and South America, was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, and may have inspired a scene in the motion picture Signs when a boy's birthday party is interrupted by a sighting of an extraterrestrial.
The Brazilian government officially denies that anything unusual occurred, but some theorists have charged that there was a cover up. Skeptics cite the lack of reliable sources as evidence against its actuality; the testimony of unnamed, anonymous ''official'' individuals is frequently featured.
UFO investigator Kevin D. Randle writes that ''this case is as complicated as any other in the UFO field.'' (Randle, 145) There have been a sometimes confusing series of claims, refutations and counterclaims. Randle notes that there is a lack of physical evidence supporting the case, and adds, ''In fact, we have been unable to verify much of anything.''
According to some mass-medias, the creature was first sighted by three women ranging from fourteen to twenty-one years old: sisters Liliane and Valquíria Fátima Silva, and their friend Kátia Andrade Xavier. They allegedly saw the creature in the afternoon of January 20, 1996: A biped about 1.6 metres (5 ft), with a large head and very thin body, with V-shaped feet, brown skin, and large red eyes. It seemed to be wobbly or unsteady, and the girls assumed it was injured or sick. The creature was said to have a strong, unpleasant odor. Some have noted physical similarities between this alleged creature and the chupacabra, a cryptozoological creature reported in Puerto Rico and Central America.
The Silva sisters say they fled, then told their mother that they had seen the devil. She didn’t believe them at first, but when she had gone to the area they had seen the creature and smelled a strong ammonia-like odor, her opinion changed. After relating their tale to families and friends, rumors began to spread throughout the city: UFOs were sighted, aliens were captured. Two days later, another creature was allegedly found lying along a road. Three military trucks were sent to retrieve it. It was captured by S2 officials (Brazil's military intelligence), and sent to a hospital to be examined.
As related by Moffett in the Wall Street Journal, ''The army finds itself besieged on several fronts. A local mystic predicts that Varginha will suffer some kind of cataclysm this September as retribution for its blitzkrieg on the interplanetary visitors. An armed-forces news conference marking 'Victory Day' in World War II degenerated into a shouting match between a general and a television reporter pressing him about the extraterrestrials. An official briefing to debunk UFO conspiracies was overshadowed by an auto mechanic's claim to have seen yet another weird cylindrical aircraft, a cosmic encounter he re-enacted with the aid of an aluminum coffee thermos ... Stanton Friedman, a Canada-based UFO expert, says Varginha has the makings of a 'cosmic Watergate.'''
Brazilian mass media was saturated for some time with speculation, rumors and accounts regarding the UFO's and the strange creatures. A soldier, Marco Eli Cherese, was said to have died under mysterious circumstances related to the UFO affair.
Vitorio Pacaccini, a Brazilian UFO enthusiast became a central figure in the Varginha affair. He appeared on television, offering testimony he reported was from reliable government officials, which confirmed the events as true. The sources, however, were anonymous, said Pacaccini, and feared reprisal. Randle notes that Pacaccini insists that first to encounter the strange creature was not the girls, but rather, a group of fire department workers. In Brazil, local fire departments are charged with capturing wild dogs, stray animals and the like. In the early morning of January 20, according to Pacaccini, four firemen were alerted to a strange animal which had been first spotted by boys, who began throwing rocks at it. They captured the dizzy creature, and whisked it away.
Moffett writes that there have been over half a dozen sightings of the creatures, though ''it is unclear how all of these beings could have fit into the minivan-sized spacecraft that was spotted here in January.'' There was disagreement as to whether one creature had been sighted multiple times, or if several creatures had been sighted individually.
Officials in Varginha denied that anything unusual occurred, but considered dedicating a park to the creatures.
On the other hand, this incident made the city very famous, bringing numerous ET tourists. Now, the UFO tourism becomes an important commercial activity of the Varginha city. Many ''Grey'' dolls with famous football team uniform are in sale on the main streets.