by Tim Johnson
Herald Staff Writer
(SOACHA, Colombia) -- Forget about hostile aliens trying to blow the Earth to smithereens. Or itty-bitty signs of life on a rock from Mars.
The aliens out there are big, friendly and chatty.
At least, that's the view at an encampment along an Andean ridge where UFO believers from 15 nations converged to harmonize with the heavens, and hunt for flying saucers.
"There is no reason to be afraid. If they had wanted to conquer us, they would have done so long ago," said Charlie Paz, a Peruvian believer in unidentified flying objects, who spoke like a man with thorough, unshakable convictions.
Some 380 people trekked to a camp site at a private nature reserve, then spent the weekend scanning for any night-time sign of lights.
Sometime before dawn, a cry went out: "Look, I see three!" By the time people emerged from sleeping bags, and tent zippers flew open, a second cry came: "They're gone!"
By the time the First International Congress of UFO Researchers and Those Contacted in Colombia disbanded Sunday afternoon [Aug 25], the attendees appeared to have broken down into UFO experts who said they communicated often with aliens, and others who dearly wanted to spot a UFO for the first time.
Paz offered them hope.
"Never in the history of humankind have there been so many observations," he said. "Last year in Brazil, there were 500 UFOs sighted. Just in the first three months of 1996, more than 600 sightings were reported."
Other self-proclaimed experts offered steps for communicating with aliens telepathically. Surrounded by several dozen eager listeners, a 25-year-old Swiss, Martin Zoller, said a key is opening the heart.
"You just need to have confidence and faith, and not intellectualize," he said. "A lot of people are not open to see it."
He added that it is often the aliens who decide when to show themselves to humans, selecting only those prepared for the experience: "The extraterrestrials are careful. They prepare people slowly."
Several people said their beliefs in alien life brought them some scorn.
"It is not easy having these convictions," said Ana Cecilia Morales, a young industrial engineer from El Salvador. "Many people say, 'You are crazy. You are one of those planetary children.'" Morales said she had never seen a UFO but is a longtime believer: "I am convinced that alien cultures exist."
Others, including a number of former military officers, asserted that they were in regular telepathic contact with aliens from other galaxies, who send messages as regularly as the daily mail.
"Last night, I received a communication from one of these beings, who calls himself Sordaz and comes from the constellation Apus," said Rafael Garcia Bido, a Dominican electrical engineer. "He offered us a welcome to this Congress."
Much of the interplanetary talk was mixed with paranoia that would have been fitting at a convention of survivalists in the Rocky Mountains.
A former Chilean military officer, Juan Valdez Ibañez, said he believes ETs living in the star Ceti [sic] "made a pact with the CIA....This is the truth."
Others explained that most of the world's major religious prophets were, in fact, extraterrestrials in disguise. Many said aliens are attempting to correct environmental and political problems on the planet, and that an active intergalactic consciousness is the only way to end conflict on Earth.
As hundreds swayed around a roaring fire on Saturday night, Doraluz Aragon, a Colombian woman who said she has been in contact with aliens from the Pleiades, exhorted listeners to look skyward and appeal to the aliens.
"Wisdom, descend!" she cried. "Use me! I want to be part of the force! Take me away!"
A day later, a broad smile on her face, her eyes aglow, Aragon said she had been one of the few to observe UFOs during the night.
"I saw four of them. Two were vessels filled with light. Two were support vessels," she said, pointing away from the dramatic cliffside campsite, about 25 miles from the capital of Bogota.
Not everyone took such claims seriously.
"There is a lot of manipulation going on," said Carlos Torres, a Venezuelan author who uses the pseudonym Sol-Ra-Ser. "A lot of people think that they've made contact but really haven't. Others have made contact but don't understand it."
He added: "You should doubt everything."
Torres said he was pleased at the renewed attention on alien life brought about by the announcement weeks ago that signs of microscopic life had been found on a meteor from Mars, and the premiere of the movie "Independence Day," about hostile aliens attacking Earth.
"It was great. I liked the special effects," said Zoller.
Others said the movie portrayed aliens in a negative light, but Torres said he thinks even such movies turn attention in the right direction: "There is no other frontier. Everything is pointing to the stars."
Original file name: CNI - Colombia.encounters
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