- By Catherine A. TraywickCatherine A. Traywick is a fellow at Foreign Policy.
Mulder and Scully never made it to South America during their decade-long search for extraterrestial life, but if they had, they would have certainly found an ally in Peru. Indeed, the Peruvian Air Force is reviving their own version of the X-files: an office called the Department of Investigation of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (DIFAA), which will exclusively investigate UFO sightings and other "anomalous aerial phenomena."
The DIFAA was originally created in 2001, first making the news when its chief investigator, Anthony Choy, began looking into the mysterious "Chulucanas Incident," a series of events in 2001 that captured the imaginations of Peruvians for years afterwards. Choy describes the case at length in the video below, but here’s the short version: On October 13, 2001, in Chulucanas, hundreds of people observed eight spheres of red-orange light moving intelligently through the sky for over five hours. A couple of weeks later, someone caught video of a bright, tear-shapred object about 80 feet long hovering near the city. A few minutes later, several others saw mysterious lights landing in the woods. It was the DIFAA’s first officially documented UFO case.
The office closed five years ago due to unspecified "administrative problems." Now, the Air Force is reinstating it, in response increased reports of UFO activity. The office will document and analyze sightings of unexplained flying objects with the help of Air Force personnel, sociologists, archaeologists and astronomers. Colonel Julio Vucetich, the head of the Air Force’s aerospace division told the Guardian that new technology, like cellphones, Facebook and Twitter, have made it easier for the public to both share and accept UFO sightings.
Col. Vucetich doesn’t explicitly say he believes in aliens, but he doesn’t seem particularly interested in debunking them, either. In fact, Peru’s Institute for Studies of Historic Aerospace, is publishing a book of UFO sightings in Peru, based on news clipping and reports from the 1950s and 1960s. And with all of the new reports, there’s no shortage of material for a volume two.
In 2010, for example, a pilot caught video of a mysterious, helmet-like object emerging from a cloud bank. In 2012, a strange metallic object was captured on video in La Molina, while another steampunk-looking object was caught on tape as it twirled over some mountains. And this year, cellphone footage of a fiery UFO descending over Lake Titicaca made headlines, again.
Peru has been a hotbed of UFO activity for decades, not least because many suspect that the Nasca Lines – an ancient collection of about 300 immense geometric figures carved into the deserts of Southern Peru — were actually chiseled into the landscape by ancient astronauts. It sounds far-fetched, but perhaps the DIFAA is willing to take on the case…
Dan Lamothe is an award-winning military journalist and war correspondent. He has written for Marine Corps Times and the Military Times newspaper chain since 2008, traveling the world and writing extensively about the Afghanistan war both from Washington and the war zone. He also has reported from Norway, Spain, Germany, the Republic of Georgia and while underway with the U.S. Navy. Among his scoops, Lamothe reported exclusively in 2010 that the Marine Corps had recommended that Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer receive the Medal of Honor. This year, he was part of a team of journalists that exposed senior Marine Corps leaders' questionable involvement in legal cases, and then covering it up. A Pentagon investigation is underway in those cases.| The Complex |
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |