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The Incredible Saga Of Joao Prestes

From: Scott Corrales <lornis1.nul>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 15:35:24 -0400
Fwd Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 09:57:10 -0400
Subject: The Incredible Saga Of Joao Prestes

The Incredible Saga of Joao Prestes
by Pablo Villarubia Mauso

Translated by Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology

In 1946, almost a year prior to the famous incident at Mt.
Rainier (USA) which heralded the start of the modern UFO age, a
farmer died in a most hideous fashion in Brazil's back country.
Within a matter of hours, a strange light had brought about the
death of Joao Prestes Filho by intense burns, according to some
witnesses, or as a result of his flesh falling off from the
bones, leaving bones and tendons exposed - as others would claim.

The answer to one of the most disconcerting and horrifying cases
in the history of ufology started in the small, noisome "Minas
Gerais" hotel where historian/ufologist Claudio Tsuyoshi Suenaga
and I had lodged in order to research several alleged
Chupacabras attacks in the region. We were in the town of Sao
Roque - 47 kilometers away from the city of Sao Paulo (Brazil)
when my roommate called my attention, breaking the silence of
night, to the pages of a newspaper he had found in the room's
grimy bathroom.

With a mixture of ecstacy and emotion, stumbling over words, the
young Japanese-Brazilian read out the paper's contents, dated
April 12, 1997: "The esteemed Roque Prestes died at 91 years of
age on April 6th, at his home in this city... he was the brother
of Joao Prestes (deceased)..." To our astonishment, we had
stumbled onto the trail of the parents of Joao Prestes Filho,
the man who died a terrible death on March 4th, 1946: after
having been attacked by an unexplained light, his flesh began to
fall of his bones in chunks, especially off his jaw, chest,
hands, fingers, and feet, dooming him to die within a mater of
hours. To the horror and helplessness of onlookers, some pieces
of flesh remained dangling from his tendons.

The Hotel Minas Gerais was the mute witness to our insomnia and
restlessness until dawn, when we contacted a son of the late
Roque Prestes by phone. In a matter of minutes and at brisk
pace, we reached the modest home of sixty year-old Luis Prestes
on teh outskirts of Sao Roque. Luis was still in mourning for
the recent death of his father, Roque - a former soldier of the
constitutionalist revolution of 1932.

"Up to very recently, shortly before his death, my father
recalled his brother's tragic passing on that distant year 1946.
I was small - some 9 years old - but I clearly remember what
happened to my uncle Joao. It was carnival week and Joao, who
loathed such festivities, decided to go fishing and drove off in
his cart. He lived in Aracariguama, a little village only 7
kilometers away from San Roque and a hitherto isolated and quiet
community. My aunt went off to the festivities with the children
and left Joao's supper already made at home." Luis Prestes would
explain as we looked on attentively.

"I was in Aracariguama when I learned that my uncle was dying at
a relatives house. I wanted to go in, but it was forbidden,
since I was too young and Joao's physical condition could have
caused a traumatic impression. My father did see him, and Joao
told him that upon returning home and opening the window,
something resembling fire or a "fiery torch" entered the room in
which he was standing. He fell to the floor and felt that his
body was on fire. Wrapping himself in a blanket, he walked over
two kilometers into the village. My father said that Joao was
only burned from the waist up, with the exception of the hair on
his head. I managed to see my uncle when they removed him from
the house to take him to Santana do Parna=EDba by truck, where the
nearest hospital was located. I remember that the sheets
covering him were blackened, perhaps by the burns on his body.
Joao died shortly before being admitted to the hospital."
Prestes related as we caught his account on tape.

"A number of books published in English, Japanese and even
Russian have said tha Joao Prestes died in a hideous manner,
with pieces of his body, such as his ears or parts of his face,
melting off. Is this true?" I asked.

"No. His appearance, according to my father, who escorted him to
the hospital, was truly ruinous, but it wasn't that extreme. He
had serious burns all over his body. His flesh was dark and he
presented no bodily injuries," explained our interviewee, making
partial changes to the story which had appeared in books and
hundreds of articles published on the case. "My father was a
deputy policeman at Santana de Parna=EDba and requested the
assistance of the forensic unit to research the case, but I
don't know anything about the results. The fact is that nothing
burned in the room where Jose was when the fire appeared. He had
no enemies or anyone who'd be interested in doing such a thing
to him. Even as he died, he repeated that the light had attacked
him and that it was "otherworldly"," explained our interviewee.
The following item of information brought us back to reality
with a start. " Back then, people would constantly see fireballs
known as "assombracoes" (ghosts) in Aracariguama and its
vicinity. Some believed they came from the gold mine that's now
closed. Other weird things would happen, too. My late father
told us that around 1922 he was able to see a lobisomem (wolf-
 man) while with my grandfather and an uncle. My uncle
apparently threw a rock at it and hit its hand. The next day, a
neighbor turned up with his hand bandaged. Other people told
similar stories," Luis Prestes informed us. The idea that that
the Sao Roque area could be some fantastic "window area" through
which an astonishing variety and quantity of anomalous phenomena
jelled in our minds.

The theory seemed to match the following data imparted by our
informer. "Something equally scary happened to Emiliano Prestes,
my uncle and Joao Prestes' brother. A few months after his
brother's tragic death, Emiliano was walking through an
Aracariguama forest, in Agua Podre - the same one from which the
lobisomen appeared in 1922 and where the light burned Joao. A
fiery torch appeared above him, causing the terrified Emiliano
to run to a canyon's edge when the thing fell on him. All he
could do was kneel and pray for his life. He told us that he
felt an intese heat, but luckily, the fiery torch moved away and
vanished." Luis's account added even further mysteries to the

The "fiery torch" or "fireball" was also seen on several
occasions by Luis's father. The object would frighten horses and
riders alike as they made their way through Aracariguama's dark
nights to reach their humble abodes. "The lights wwre seen most
frequently between 3 and 4 in the morning, and were three or
four times larger than the Moon. People would feel their heat
even at a distance, and they were able to move amazingly fast.
My father stopped going to parties at night because of these
lights," Luis Prestes recalled.

Further Aggressions

Before ending our interview, feeling satisfied by the new
information shedding light on the Joao Prestes case, just as we
were thinking to add nothing further to the proceedings, Luis
Prestes gave us a valuable clue: the possible existence of the
last witness have seen Joao's dying moments. "He's an elderly
gentleman, but very lucid and strong. He lives close to my
neighborhood in San Roque. This is his address."

We immedately headed toward the residence of Verg=EDlio Francisco
Alves. Upon reaching it, his daughter advised us that her father
was working in the fields in front of the house, clearing
vegetation with a scythe. After some time had elapsed, Verg=EDlio
appeared. To our suprise, he produced his identity card proving
his 92 years of existence in full health.

Seated on a threadbare sofa in his modest home, Verg=EDlio
explained that he was Joao Prestes's second cousin. "I was born
and raised in Aracariguama. That's where I began working in the
Morro Velho gold mine at the age of 15 o4 16. There was a
British engineer who couldn't write my name and called me garoto
de ouro ("golden boy"). But I'll tell you what I know about the
horrible death of Joao Prestes. It was in 1946 during the
carnival season. He went fishing in the nearby Tiet=E9 River,
riding in his cart, while the wife and children went to the
festivities. It was the dry season and there was no rain. When
he got back, he stabled his horse and fed it some corn. He put
the fish in a pot and heated some water with firewood to take a
bath. When he changed clothing, a sort of beam of light or
yellow light had appeared in his room. He felt his body burning
and that his beard, while short, was burning. Panicked, and
unable to move his hands, Joao raised the door latch using his
teeth and ran into the street barefoot, since he never wore
shoes. He ran screaming to his sister Mar=EDa's house, near the
Aracariguama church. He dropped on a bed and said he'd been
burned. The police chief, Joao Malaqu=EDas, went over immediately,
who told him there was no one to blame for what had happened,
because his attacker "had not been of this world". This was
followed by lightning and thunder, and a powerful rainstorm..."

This part of Verg=EDlio's story reminded me of the Varghina case,
which occurred in 1997 in Minas Gerais. A rainstorm the likes of
which had never been seen in Varghina occurred after the
appearance and alleged capture of one or more supposedly alien
creatures. Significant atmospheric changes tend to occur in
"fortean" cases.

"So, you were able to see Joao Prestes on his deathbed?" Claudio
Suegana asked Verg=EDlio Alves.

"Yes. My cousin Emiliano Prestes, who was my neighbor, called me
over. When I got to Mar=EDa's house, I found Joao Malaqu=EDas, the
sheriff, speaking with Joao. He was in bed and having problems
using his tongue. His skin, which was fair, was toasted,
reddish, as if he'd been roasted. His hands and face had the
worst burns. The hands were twisted. His hair didn't burn, nor
did his feet nor clothing. He was only burned from the waist up.
His feet were torn up from running barefoot on sharp rocks.

"Did you see Joao's flesh falling off in pieces at any time?" I

"No, no. His skin was burned, but it wasn't falling off. I think
that the boitata was to blame, since it had attacked him once
before," Verg=EDlio told us. Claudio and I exchanged looks of
stupefaction as the lucid nonogenarian imparted his information.

"Please tell us about this other incident," we said, almost in

"Well, when Joao was a tropero (cattle driver), he was still
young and lived with his father in Aracariguama. One day at
sundown, as he lead the donkeys over a hill, he saw a fire that
fell from the sky - a fireball. He was near a chapel that had a
cross, and he could feel the fireball passing him, almost
knocking him down. Joao would tell me that at that spot you
could sometimes see ten or twelve balls emerging from the sky.
Some of them were red, others Moon-colored. Sometimes five or
six of them would fall to the ground and explode. People would
call them the boitata lights..." Verg=EDlio explained.

I would like to digress to explain that the word "boitata" is of
native origin and desgnated mysterious lights that would pursue
and even kill the native indians, according to Portuguese
colonial chronicles and the stories of Canarian priest Jos=E9 de
Anchieta in the 16th century.

Verg=EDlio himself witnessed the apparition of one of these
lights, which emerged from behind the mountain were the gold
mine was and landed on Mt.Saboao, another hill where strange
lights always appear. "We also called those fireballs maes do
ouro (mothers of gold). There was also the "golden lizard", an
elongated tongue of flame that moved in a straight line, slowly,
without making a sound."

The mysterious Morro Velho gold mine is currently abandoned.
Canadian general George Raston, who founded the mine in 1926,
lived there until it was closed in the late 1930's.

While we ate some delicious plantains grown by Verg=EDlio on his
own farm, he told us that wolf-men had also been seen in
Aracariguama, thus confirming the information provided by Luis

"Who took Joao to the hospital?" I asked Verg=EDlio in order to
resume and finish our interview on the case.

"Malaqu=EDas, the sheriff, wanted to take him to a hospital in Sao
Paulo, but the road was in bad shape and they went to Santana do
Parna=EDba. An investigation was requested from the police but no
answer was found for the case. They only said that nothing had
burned in Joao's house, since some had said that he had burned
himself with a candlestick.

Road to Aracariguama

Still stunned by the new information in our posession about the
Prestes case, we got on the only bus that makes the trip between
Sao Roque and Aracariguama. Since 1946, when it was a village
without electricity, running water and sewerage, Aracariguama
hadn't grown much and poisonous snakes were still abundant. It
is one of the region's oldest towns and has 7000 residents. It
was founded some 350 years ago, and was home to the
bandeirantes, the conquerors of Brazil's vast interior.

According to a report published in the 1960's by the late Dr.
Walter B=FChler, the police condemned Joao Prestes's house and it
was later demolished, since his family was apparently afraid to
return to the house, perhaps considered an accursed location.

In Aracariguama we met with Fabiana Matias de Oliveira, head
press secretary for the small township, and she led us to her
uncle Hermes de Fonseca, nearly 70 years old and deeply
knowledgeable about the history of the region and its occupants.
As is the case with many Brazilians of his age, he continued
working to earn a living, making small improvements to a farm
close to the Town Hall. Hermes sat on a tree stump and told us
about his life, his arrival in Aracariguama in 1945 and the fact
that a rattlesnake had bitten his ankle - a scar he showed us

"I knew Joao Prestes. I remember the date of his death
perfectly - it was March 5th, 1946. He left behind five or six
children and a widow. I never got to see the body - only a few
people did. But they said that it was burned. The press would
later say that his body had melted, fallen to pieces," the
septuagenarian told us.

"Weird things have always occurred here. A year after Joao's
death, his brother Emiliano Prestes saw two fireballs rising and
striking each other, rising again and repeating the same action,
close to the cemetery. Suddenly the lights encircled him and he
felt intense heat. He knelt and prayed until the lights left.
Even today you can still see these lights, but with less
innsity, over at Ibat=E9, between Aracariguama and Sao Roque. When
they strike each other they let sparks fly, but don't
disintegrate. Giomar Gouveia, a champion jockey and owner of
some stables at Ibat=E9, saw a light hovering over his animals,
giving off orange beams of light. This was in 1995." Hermes da
Fonseca recalled.

Enthused by our interest, Hermes continued, rememebering dates
and details worthy of his appointment as the "official
chronicler" of Aracariguama. "In 1960, Celso Gomide, a bus
driver, was on his way from Sao Roque when he saw a red light
that caused him to stop the vehicle. The light approached the
cabin and Gomide, frightened, began to pray. The passengers were
stunned by the uncanny light, which encircled them for some 20

"In 1955," he continued, "I worked on the construction of a
cable car in the Santa Rita cement factory. It was supposed to
be used to transport rock from a local quarry. It was August
24th of that year and the heat was unbearable when myself and
other workers saw an object drifting in the blue sky as large as
a truck tire, very tall, aluminum-colored, spinning and giving
off smoke - circles of white smile. We saw it at a quarter past
eleven, and by twelve o'clock, five or six FAB (Brazilian Air
Force) airplanes arrived. They were smaller than the flying
wheel, which distanced itself easily from the planes. On the
following day, the "Folha de Sao Paulo" newspaper published an
article about the fact that thousands of people in Osasco (near
Aracariguama) had seen a flying saucer with the same

Less than a kilometer away from the town is the graveyard. We
found the locak gravedigger, 53 year old Nelson Oliveira, who
led us to the tomb where the mortal remains of Joao Prestes lay.
On the cement box covered by earth there rose a crudely carved
cross and an identification number. Claudio and I felt knots in
our throats as we thought about the last moments of Joao
Prestes' agony. Regaining our composure, we asked Nelson, who
had been a gravedigger since 1976, if he had seen anything
strange in the area.

"Around 1989 I saw something weird, round, flying over the
cemetery. It was like an upside-down hat made of aluminum,
shining when it moved in a straight line and balancing. It was
headed toward Sao Paulo," the gravedigger told us, using his own
hat as an example.

During a personal interview with ufologist Antonio Ribera in
Barcelona, he expressed the belief that Joao Prestes could have
been burned by an alien ship's propulsion system. "I don't think
the aliens wanted to harm or kill the farmer. They simply didn't
know what would happen if they came too close to human beings,"
Ribera said.

We had much time to reflect upon the tragic death of Joao
Prestes Filho as a ramshackle bus took us away from
Aracariguama. "What do you think the light that killed Prestes
was?" I asked Claudio. "Maybe ball lightning," he replied. "But,
how can one explain the other lights and creatures in the
region?" I insisted.

Claudio Suenaga said nothing. He shrugged and cast a last glance
on the church tower of that accursed village.

The Prestes Case: A Study in UFO Intrigue

The Joao Prestes Case only became known internationally as of
September 1971, when ufologist Irineu Silveira announced the
possible connection between the farmer's death and the UFO
phenomen during the 2nd Symposium on Extraterrestrial Life, held
in Sao Paulo.

A number of investigators examined the case. Walter Buhler, one
of Brazil's best known ufiologists, believed that Prestes' burns
were attributable to a candlestick. However, the majority begged
to differ, accusing B=FChler of belonging to the "angelical" party
of ufology - the side that preaches that ETs have come to Earth
to do good rather than harm. Others, such as premier ufologist
Fernando Grossman, were able to interview direct witnesses to
the case in 1974, such as former apprentice orderly Aracy
Gomide. Based on information supplied by Gomide, Grossman and
physician Luiz Braga reached the conclusion that Prestes' burns
resembled "the indirect effects of a nuclear explosion, as
occured with certain victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Radiation affected living cells but not the dead ones, such as
hair and the fabric of clothing. But, who in 1946 would have had
a directed beam of powerful atomic particles anywhere near

"It's not an isolated case," Grossman commented during an
interview he granted me in Sao Paulo. "There are many parallels
between his death ant others which occured in the state of Para
(Brazilian Amazonia) in the late '70s and early '80s. The
researcher pointed out that on the day of Prestes' death, an
Aracariguama councilman named Alencar Martins Goncalves saw a
"fireball" near the cementary.

Gomide's statements were internationally echoed and the majority
of the articles appearing in books, magazines and bulletins
based the Prestes Case on this witness exclusively. Much of the
information provided by the former ordely does not appear to
coincide with the recollections of Luis and Roque Prestes and
Verg=EDlio Francisco Alves. According to Gomide, Joao, upon
returning from fishing, jumped through a window to get into his
house, given that his wife had locked the door upon leaving. It
was at that moment that he would have seen the intense light
that burned him. Gomide, who had worked as an Army orderly, was
asked to care for Joao Prestes, with whom he held conversations
during the latter's 6 to 9 hour agony.

The orderly disclosed that the flesh fell off the victim's arms,
leaving exposed bones and tendons without any indication of
pain. The most affected bodily parts were the face and arms, but
without presenting any darkening - rather decomposition, an
explanation that doesn't jibe with the ones given by Luis
Prestes and Virgilio. On the other hand, all three accounts
coincide in that Joao's shirt and trousers, as well as his hair,
remained intact.

Claudio Suenaga managed to recover Joao Prestes' death
certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics and Notary of
Santana de Parna=EDba. Gomide stated that Prestes had died between
three and four o'clock in the morning on March 6, when in fact,
the event occured on March 4 at 22:00 hours and not on the 5th
as was hitherto believed. Physician Luiz Caligiuri indicated the
cause of death in the document as "cardiac collapse, generalized
1st and 2nd degree burns." Joao's age was believed to be 39, but
the document indicates 44 years of age at the time of death.

Sao Roque, Santana do Parnaiba y Aracariguama: Window Areas?

The region surrounding Sau Roque, Santana do Parna=EDba,
Aracariguama and other towns neighboring one of the most densely
populated cities on Earth (Sao Paulo, with its 18 million
inhabitants) has been the scene of unusual phenomena for many

The "Supysaua" Newlsetter (March '95), published by the Grupo
Ufol=F3gico de Guaruja reported that three children had witnessed
a glowing UFO on January 4, 1994 in Santana de Parna=EDba, where
Joao Prestes died. The object approached the backyard of the
home in question and floated less than 15 meters over the
witnesses. Its color was largely yellow and it posessed
sparkling green and red lights. What was remarkable was that
within the yellow light, the children could make out a semi-
circular shape resembling a dome. The children were startled by
the UFOs abrupt, zigzagging movements as it departed at high

In that same year and region, a married couple witnessed from
the "Lila" ranch on Km 41 of Castelo Branco highway a spherical
object measuring three meters in diameter which floated between
the trees and made no sound whatsoever. It was red in color and
was darker at its core. Its periphery was surrounded by several
smaller, blinking lights, alternating between blue and red.

In 1993, a 12-year old girl named Regiane Barbosa da Silva
witnessed on the same ranch a spherical object measuring some 5
meters in diameter. The UFO suddenly fired a beam of yellow
light that covered the girl's body and lit the surrounding area.
After the event, Regiane experienced headaches and eye
irritation. Three months later, another witness spotted the same
object at the same spot. The watchmen of the "Lila" ranch claim
having seen two humanoids floating over a brook on the ranch's

An elderly Japanese woman who spent her youth in Santana de
Parna=EDba told Suenaga that she had seen a half-wolfman, half-
centaur being in the vicinity of S=EDtio do Morro. San Roque has
also experienced one of the most intense waves of Chupacabras
activity in all of South America.

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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