Adjuntas: A Mystery Lost in the Mountains
By Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology
Forty years ago, bringing up the subject of UFOs in Puerto Rico would elicit two responses as to where the phenomenon could best be seen. One was at the Caribbean National Rainforest – better known as the enigmatic, jungle-draped peak of El Yunque – and the other was a far-less known one outside the island itself: the municipality of Adjuntas, nestled in the island’s central mountain range.
The Caribbean island’s coffee-growing region, high in the Cordillera Central, is far cooler than the Atlantic or Caribbean shores: temperatures in the low sixties are common, with 40 degree minimums recorded in 1980 and 2012. Rich in vegetation, the municipality would acquire a reputation as a UFO hotspot – a characteristic that endures to this day.
The UFO presence in the center of the island, however, went much farther back that the 1970s. During the wave of sightings that precipitated itself over Puerto Rico in the 1950s, reports from the neighboring town of Jayuya described the presence of “a flying saucer of considerable size over” the community on October 9, 1952 at 7:30 pm. The light projected by the incredible object as it hovered over a sugar refinery was such that local schoolteacher Aida Reyes – hoping for a better look – had to close her eyes at one point, saying that the brightness was comparable to that of looking at the sun through closed eyelids. She would later go on to say that the object’s apparent size was larger than “a barrel lid” and oval shaped, moving silently across the skies.
Activity over Adjuntas proper began – according to journalistic sources – in October 1972 as part of the island’s nearly constant wave of paranormal activity, which was not to be replicated until the 1987-1995 flap. Local newspaper El Nuevo Día mentioned the presence of unidentified flying objects whose manifestations had caused a commotion in Adjuntas and caused concern among the population. Police sources told reporters that the object was orange-yellow, would appear in the night skies and then vanish, only to appear again. It also followed a regular schedule, manifesting between seven and ten o’clock in the evening. The more skeptical – and now defunct - San Juan Star sided with the opinions of the local weather service, which dismissed the sightings as a weather balloon launched from Isla Verde International Airport every night at 7 pm. The prevailing winds, according to the Weather Service, could have probably taken the balloon to the vicinity of Adjuntas, some fifty miles distant.
Luis Maldonado Trinidad, a police commander for the island’s southern area (and who would become a notorious police commissioner in the future), supposedly forwarded a report to his superiors, ascertaining that police personnel had in fact seen these unusual objects. His report describes them as “balloon-shaped yellow lights travelling at considerable speed while remaining noiseless, giving off a luminosity that lasts between fifty and sixty seconds. They travel from one side to another and vanish into the mountains.”
Sebastián Robiou’s Manifiesto OVNI
gives us a more specific case from these saucer-ridden times. Around nine o’clock in the evening on October 10, 1972, Milton Kleber and his nephew were driving along one of the narrow roads to the north of Adjuntas on their way to Dos Bocas, a lake created in the 1940s as part of the island’s hydroelectric network. As they drove, uncle and nephew saw an object, “rounded and flattened like an oyster” following a trajectory parallel to their vehicle. “To the left of the highway we saw the dark silhouette of a mountain against a sky filled with low, black nimbus-stratus clouds. Between the mountain and the highway, at an elevation of nearly a thousand feet, at a 60-degree angle with my car, we then saw the outline of an object moving in the sky along the horizon, at a speed equal to that of the car and matching it. It was pale orange, not shiny, but rather a matte color.”
The experience does not end there. The passengers continued to observe the object and Kleber ultimately decided to pull over. “The time was now past nine o’clock in the evening. We were at kilometer marker 5.6 between two houses facing each other. The object also halted in the sky, keeping ahead of us but always to the left. Its orange light had turned bluish-green like that of a mercury lamppost. It then moved to our eleven o’clock position as the pale orange hue returned. It kept moving until it placed itself in front of us at a considerable distance.”
It was then that Kleber decided to flash its headlights at the unknown object, which proceeded to disappear and reappear four times in succession. “What impressed us the most was not that it had responded to our signals, but the way in which it did so. It seemed to slowly absorb all of its own light until it became invisible, and then issue it gradually until it regained its former luminosity. Something like pulses of light in slow motion.”
The travelers resumed their journey, reaching the town of Utuado, where they learned that police officers had been called out to investigate a series of phone calls from local residents, reporting the presence of a strange things flying around in the heavens.
The Importance of October
On October 12, 1972 another island newspaper, El Mundo
, published photos allegedly taken in the Adjuntas, linking these images to the story of a teenage contactee in the city of Ponce who had entered into “telepathic communication” with otherworldly beings. On the next day, the newspaper ran a communiqué from the Arecibo Atmospheric Observatory, stating that the flying objects seen over Adjuntas and Ponce were little more than “gases emitted by the observatory into the atmosphere to clear the atmosphere when it is overloaded.” One would think that the observatory’s press officer delighted in posting such releases: in the 1990s, UFO sightings in the same area were explained away as “the observatory engaging in the de-orbiting of satellites.”
But no amount of explaining away could allay local fears and excitement. Rigoberto Ramos, the mayor of Adjuntas, told the press plainly: “Had I not seen these things with my own eyes, I would have never believed in flying saucers.” The politician had been driving to San Juan at night with his entourage when he was bemused by the sight of three discs resembling the full moon, varying in intensity as they crossed the heavens, vanishing behind the mountains. “There was no doubt in my mind,” Ramos continued, “that I was witnessing something I had never seen in my life.”
This affirmation of belief by the elected official caused all eyes to turn toward Adjuntas, and for thousands of curiosity seekers to jump into their cars and visit the mountain-girt community. Newspapers now devoted entire features to the sightings. A local factory worker declared that he too had seen the objects, describing them as oval-shaped, orange and silver colored, noiseless and flying from east to west, losing themselves amid the jagged mountains. An agricultural worker would describe the objects as looking like the sun, travelling at average speed before vanishing. A college student claimed having seen a “coffin-shaped” flying object from his grandmother’s country home, flying at considerably altitude.
Researchers Noel Rigau and Sebastián Robiou visited the community during this critical period of the three-week long flap and managed to speak to dozens of witnesses, even securing an interview with Mayor Ramos, who in turn provided them with a list of reputable persons who had seen objects in the sky, ranging from the town priest to the school principal, including an array of students, merchants and farmers. Among them was Nino González, who reported an interesting CE-2: his television set and all of the electric appliances in his home went dark as a “flying saucer” flew overhead. Another local resident, William Serrano, would also claim seeing a light as he walked toward his house one evening, noticing how the lights within the structure browned-out as the strange light grew closer. When the light appeared to “head straight toward him”, Serrano jumped into a nearby pile of brushwood to avoid it. Renowned ufologist Stanton Friedman apparently visited the area without obtaining any satisfactory evidence, following a presentation at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras.
The 1972 Adjuntas flap petered out toward the end of October, as the island was gripped by another kind of fever – political campaigning – and turned out in droves in November to elect Luis A. Ferré to the governor’s office.
A refractory period of UFO activity would ensue for nearly eleven months, followed by some of the most startling cases ever recorded in Puerto Rico during the worldwide “year of the humanoids”, of which we have written elsewhere.
In writing about the Adjuntas flap of 1972, the late Gordon Creighton of Flying Saucer Review
(FSR CH 1973 No. 17) had the following to say:
"The number of people in the Adjuntas area who claim to have seen UFOs is remarkable. There, as all over the island, newspaper offices and TV stations and police stations were inundated with phone calls. [...] The crowds flocking to Adjuntas have caused the bars and amusement centers to flourish and everywhere great excitement has prevailed. Puerto Rico's last UFO wave (1968) was also over the central, southern and western areas. An interesting point that has emerged is that these rural areas of Puerto Rico, which appear to have been under inspection, are on, or close to, zones of high natural radioactivity in the soil, as has been confirmed by consultation of the U.S. Geological Survey's Map, National Gamma Aeroradioactivity of Puerto Rico. In all cases, the UFOs allegedly seen at close quarters are less than 16 ft. in diameter. An unusual, striking feature is that so many have been seen in close vicinity of reservoirs, dams, electric plants, high-voltage power lines and radio installations.”
Sightings in the 1990s
In the tenth month of the year 1990, UFO activity returned to the mountains of central Puerto Rico, following the renewal of activity in Cabo Rojo (on the island’s southwestern corner) in the late ‘80s. Residents of Adjuntas and Utuado began contacting newsrooms much in the same way they had done in 1972, reporting unusual craft settling on the surrounding mountains. One particular claim described a large, spherical object that disgorged smaller ones, all of which vanished in a westward direction.
Julio Víctor Ramírez, staff writer for the El Vocero newspaper, featured the story of watchman Heriberto Acosta in his column on UFOs. The watchman, a resident of Lajas, to south of Adjuntas and the mountain range, reported seeing a strange craft whose lower section was fully illuminated, and had the general configuration of “a turtle’s shell”. From his post at the Lajas municipal dump (we would do well to remember at this point the UFO phenomenon’s affinity for such places), the watchman gazed incredulously at the huge object from a wooden bench on the ground.
“I looked to the sky and saw this thing above me, some sixty feet above, and I got scared. There was nothing I could do; I couldn’t take off running,” he explained, adding that the unknown vehicle remained static for an unspecified period of time before suddenly ascending. “That thing looked like a giant turtle, and I saw that it looked whitish underneath, but it had no lights. Still, it cast light as though it were daytime.”
Those citizens of Adjuntas who remembered the madness of the early ‘70s were not exactly pleased to witness a resurgence of the phenomenon, especially when it seemed to bring with it other anomalies like the “snowfall” which turned out to be a spectacular hailstorm that dropped ½ inch stones on the population for half an hour. But not even the atmospheric phenomena could keep the curiosity-seekers away, who clustered by the dozens, becoming witnesses to the strange objects that made free with the area’s airspace. It was interesting that both spectators and unknown lights should be drawn to this spot: the location of the test pits for potential mining operations in central Puerto Rico, known to contain considerable quantities of copper and to a lesser extent, gold. It has been speculated that this mineral wealth has attracted non-human interest as well, or that it serves as a beacon for anomalous activity.
Elderly residents of Adjuntas’ Barrio Pellejas alleged that bizarre vehicles and even stranger-looking “people” could occasionally be seen in the region containing the copper mines. In an interview, Mrs. Rafaela Hernández indicated: “My father would tell us that there was something strange there, a great mystery. That those people supposedly from another world had a base there, and that late at night, saucers would land and a great glow could be seen down there.”
A Thrilling Skywatch
Recordings provided to INEXPLICATA by Willie Durand Urbina of the Puerto Rican Research Group (PRRG) attest to the excitement of the skywatches during the 1990-91 flaps. An unidentified UFO enthusiast can be heard saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, now we are seeing another object! Two minutes after an airliner fly-by, we are now watching a triangular object, heading out of Utuado, stopping over Pellejas, on its way to [the district of] Juan González. It is currently over Juan González. This is incredible. How is it that so many objects are being seen in the area? It isn’t an airplane. It flies very slowly, and it’s about to fly past the antennas [TV masts] that can be seen from here. This object is heading toward Jayuya. What we do not know is why they wait for airliners to go by before they come out.”
The unidentified male voice asks a female companion: “Machi, what is it you’re seeing?”
“Well, right now it looks round, through these binoculars,” she replies, “and curtailing its speed.”
In the following seconds of audiotape, a hurried description is offered as to how an airplane – not a commercial airliner – appears to be engaged in reconnoitering the unidentified object, which pulls away. “The UFO is above the plane, flashing its lights. The plane is trying to find it.” A confusion of voices ensues, with another man saying that the unknown quantity “is heading off toward Cerro Maravilla”, Puerto Rico’s fourth highest peak (3,500 ft.). A sighting captured forever in time.
A Letter to the President
In October 1991, residents of the Jardines de Adjuntas urbanization began reporting UFOs flying over their community toward Barrio Guilarte. Noel González, a respected local civic leader, reported seeing a strange object of impressive proportions. The object projected a white beam of light and moved slowly and noiselessly.
At the height of the flap, it was said that some of the enormous steel plates employed to cover some of the copper test pits dug by Kennecott during decades past had been torn asunder by an unknown force, possibly beams emanating from UFOs. Photo and video evidence alleging the destruction of the enormous steel plates covering the test pits was circulated around this time. The Adjuntas events reached such intensify that Rigoberto Ramos, the town’s mayor, felt the need to contact President George W. Bush to apprise him of the situation:
“Adjuntas is a little town in the Central Range of Puerto Rico, and at this moment, we are very intrigued by some unusual events that are affecting our daily lives. Some years ago, we noticed the presence of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) in our skies. At first, we did not give great importance to this matter, but lately these things have appeared again and our citizens are distressed over this. Many, many persons have witnessed the presence of these objects in our surrounding space (evidence of these apparitions is included). Our purpose in writing you is to ask for your help to clarify what is really happening by ordering an investigation so that the people in our community can keep calm.”
Functionaries attached to the Adjuntas town hall did not say whether the White House had replied to the mayor’s missive.
[A political side note: The Hon. Rigoberto Ramos Aquino was reelected to the mayor’s office in 1976, having lost to his opponent in the 1972 elections. Undaunted, he ran again in 1976, winning another four-year term, losing the reelection during the 1980 campaign. He threw his hat into the race again in 1989, winning a third term until 1996. He died in May 2015, mourned by the leadership of the island’s New Progressive Party.]
In November 1992, journalist Julio Victor Ramirez reported on a fascinating – and frightening – incident in the mountain community: uncommonly large luminous objects were reportedly descending on a hill known as El Gigante in the precise sector of the municipality where the mining test pits were located. The witnesses to the event included members of the local police department, who would subsequently retell the experience to radio personality Edwin Plaza: “That thing had a set of lights beneath it, and a white ray of light issued from its bottom, lighting up the hill.” Despite its tremendous size, the vehicle made no sound whatsoever.
According to the law enforcement agents, the massive luminous object had appeared in the early hours of the evening, bathing the slopes of El Gigante in white light. The unknown object reportedly had lights underneath it and the source of illumination came from a single beam projected against the hillside. What made this sighting interesting – as if its magnitude were not sufficient to make it important – is that the object’s beam was apparently seeking a particular location: an agricultural school on the slopes of El Gigante that looked into “improved cattle ranching techniques”. With what we know about the presence of the UFO phenomenon in the world-wide epidemic of cattle mutilations, is it unreasonable to suspect a connection in this case?