[Editor's note: This article appears here unedited.]
In March, 1997, the world shockly watched the collective suicide of 39 people of Heaven's Gate cult, led by Marshall Applewhite and his wife. They gathered the group in a mansion in the outskirts of San Diego, California, using the excuse that they were sent by extraterrestrials in search of earthling souls to save. The salvation would happen through the group's suicide, when, according to Applewhite, the souls of the chosen ones would be gathered in a spaceship hidden in the tail of the Hale Bopp comet, that was coming close to Earth. Until then, nobody had thought seriously about this ufological cult matter, commanded by crafty or insane people who boast about extraordinary facts on behalf of superior beings. But from the tragedy in California, world's public opinion was shocked, followed by more well informed segments of society, that started to see the risk on this subject when badly intentioned people deal with this.
Here in Brazil, only some weeks later, indifferent to the immense worldwide repercussion of the U.S.A.occurrence, an ufological cult started to prosper and even in its beginning already showed some fanatism. In April , 1997, the UFO Magazine, together with a Educative TV team of Campo Grande went to the farm where Projeto Portal was placed and had testified, for hours the event of fanatic practice. Mentor and founder of the project, the former brick-layer, former goldwasher and amateur magician Urandir Fernandes de Oliveira used primary tricks with laser pens, operated by his employees camouflaged in the bush, to illude the about 70 members of his sect, that today has more than a thousand followers. Although coarse and simple, the luminous effect fascinated those that followed the former brick-layer, already in advanced process of psychological and emotional controller.
It was not the first meeting that the Projeto Portal had made in the property, located in the city of Corguinho, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, 60 miles away from Campo Grande. But at that time it was possible already to evaluate the results that such sect would have for the Brazilian UFO research - in special for the followers who joined it. The first 70 adepts went away quickly, as the used artifices to keep them were insufficient. But new expedients had been created gradually by the members of the project, always under Urandir's orientation , so new followers were attracted and kept in the group. Since then, more than a hundred thousand people, according to the former brick-layer,have already come to his farm, leaving there a lot of money to attend the "energitic work" that they develop themselves in the area, having in view an " ET contact" , in the coordinators words.
In 1997, the UFO Magazine team visit to the property almost ended in a tragedy, after this publisher and his companions attemped to alert excessively the people there that the observed lights were done with laser pens, under command of Urandir, and had nothing to do with extraterrestrial on that phenomenon. The indignation of the people present there, however, was not turned against who was deceiving them, but against who was showing them that they were being deceived - common characteristic in sects of all kinds. The members of the Projeto Portal prefered to respond with violence and tried to throw our team in despite to face the reality that they were being object of a so banal trick. This hurt their ego and, worse, destroied the people's hopes to establish the promised (and very well charged in cash) contact with ETs. This is, by the way, the stimulaton that takes crowds to the meeting of UFO gurus: the promise that ETs can be contacted, be known and transformed into friends any time the person wishes.
Alleged Gift of Cure
"I had my first contact with extraterrestrials when I was thirteen" - claims
Urandir. He says that he was in a park and he saw a huge light that blinked and
changed color. After this, mysteriously he would have received the gift of the
cure. He told that when he was 23 he found in the street two people hit by a
car. "I had an impetus to touch them and so I did. Their pain started to
diminish until they ceased completely. On that day I understood that I could and
would have to use my energy to help others". However, the former brick-layer
never accepted any official invitation, among many that have been made by the
Brazilian UFO and parapsychological communities to submit himself to
examinations. Instead, he prefers to show x-rays of "chips" in his neck, got
without any scientific control. The followers support his explanations for not
submitting himself to the tests with a radical way. "As Jesus, Urandir must be
focused only on his mission and forget his persecutors" , says Rosana, a hard
The Urandir's rhetoric has changed almost nothing since his ingression in the Brazilian UFO scene, but his allegation is always the same: he is chosen by the ETs and, thus, is able to choose other ones. " That time I felt much anger of the UFO magazine Brazil staff. But later, seeing how the tricks were obvious and that everything was pure deceit, I started to give reason to them" wrote Daniela - a girl from Rio da Janeiro - in letter to UFO Magazine [the mentioned persons had their last names preserved in order to protect them ], commenting the result of our visit to the farm. Nothing can be more dangerous than this. Who would not like to have an extraterrestrial friend, to learn the secrets of the Universe? Who would not feel seduced with the possibility to be in a bucolic place that, according to Urandir, works almost like a playground for extraterrestrials and intraterrestrials? Who does not dream with the possibility to be chosen to spend the eternity in other planets in the Cosmos? These have always been the promises of Projeto Portal, boasted about in conferences, sites on net and even in radios and TV shows. The appeal and the exuberance in this invitation are almost irresistible, but the price to the followers is too high.
The publicity is solid and well done, carried through by older Projeto Portal's members that are totally gullible in their guru's power. In fact, they are forcibly gullible, therefore the mere assumption that the power is not legitimate or the simple questioning of its veracity - as happened to deserters in the past - leads to the expulsion and execration for the infractor. This is another clear characteristic of sect movements: the fear of being deprived from the company of people the person admires makes the adept prevent the questioning. Similarly to what happened to Marco, in the example given in the article of Vanderlei D'Agostino, in this issue, the followers of Projeto Portal that make their first visit to the farm go through a "preparation", through meditations, long walks, energy techniques without measurable results and long vigils.
Singing the Mantras
But it does not happen in fact as the followers wish, it is not like a Spielberg movie. The maximum that they can see, are little lights far away from them, near some hill in the roundnesses. Or satellites passing high in the night sky. Nothing seems clear, distinct, unequivocal. Of course it doesn't, because Urandir's allegation that the UFOs frequent the area because its crew members are his friends, are totally insane and such little lights observed can literally be anything. "I saw stars in the sky and when I looked at crowd around me, the people were singing mantras for them, as it was a triunfal arrival of a ship with extraterrestrial beings" , declared professor Mario, from Sao Paulo, that frequented the place for two years and estimated his expenses in about US$ 1.800 on trips to Corguinho."I saw absolutely nothing but fanatic people being fed with illusions but I really had a fun", he says.
Projeto Portal is the result of a Urandir's dream, in his own words." I decided to accepet my mission, I dreamed with the place where a community should be built, where the people would be prepared for contacts, according to the beings. They had said that are two more places in Brazil with similar characteristics". Actually, the movement has a different origin, as you can read in box that follows this article. The followers of the former goldwasher also believe that this is the idea that gave the kick off to the group, without any questioning. "Urandir is there to obtain gold. This flying saucer is a excuse, Mrs. Lucelena Ferraz Alcântara said to UFO Magazine, she is the ex-wife of the Urandir's partner since the start of everything, and that she helped him lending money and her credit in the small city of Presidente Epitacio, state of Sao Paulo. She complains that those two guys owe her lots of money.
There are many photos of strange phenomena taken by the followers and commemorated with enthusiasm, as a proof of the good-will from ETs in revealing themselves. But an examination from the photos shows practically everything but UFO. They are spots in the negative or development, consequences of camera flashes or insects near the lenses, pair exposition effect, etc. To impress who arrives at the farm, many of these images are in exposition in the headquarters of the project. This would bring credibility to some controllers' statements, who allege that the institution makes scientific research of UFOs. None of the photos was subject to study by exempt specialists, but even so they are still described by Urandir as dimensional crafts.
This preparation that the Projeto Portal coordinators talk about has
eccentric style. One of them is the necessity of giving a specific number of
turns around a hill "to activate the energies". There are also in the property
some holes in the soil, in rocky land, that seem like enormous water puddles.
Fed by rain, they are muddy most of the year. Even so, the followers believe
piously when Urandir guarantees that the diving in one of them, named as Crater
of the Cure, can alliviates the diseases. There is another even more curious
hole, that the Projeto Portal members call Crater of the Gland. This would have
the function to stimulate the pituitary gland, that, as the adepts believe,
would facilitate the contact with dimensional beings. " You must get yourself
loose at the time of the diving and raise the thought to the space brothers" ,
declared Mariza, a regretful former-follower, from Santo Andre - Sao Paulo , who
felt "a compulsion' to give a large amount of money to the activities developed
in the farm.
Projeto Portal has forums in InterNet, where they promote " exchange of the knowledge given by the extraterrestrial beings of light" to the paranormal Urandir Fernandes de Oliveira, on his own words. The entity members enjoy a long rosary of supposedly genuine phenomena to feed their belief and, so, to remain next to their guru. One of the first ones created was the myth that the region where is the farm has a base of two hundred and fifty thousand intraterrestrials in the subsoil - size of a medium city. Another one is still more clamorous, and claims that some stones - found in the region by the thousand - are from Mars. They have sizes that vary among 4 cm and 0,5 cm and slightly rounded format. These stones had already been identified by specialists as having natural origin and can be found in many other Brazilian regions. Profiting from the stones' format, the former brick-layer guarantees that they have extraterrestrial origin and for long time he sold them to his followers. Thousands of people exhibit them as true souvenires from ETs. The stones do not come from space. I take them on the soil and Urandir pays me US$ 3,25 for a full can", said Benedita, inhabitant of the Colonia Boa Sorte [Good Luck Colony], a place near the farm.
Rocks that fall from the sky
According to followers, small rocks falls mysteriously from the sky during the most intense moments of preparation and contact. Although the UFOs never comes down in the farm, as promised, the rocks are hurled among the amazed people by Urandir's employees that stay hidden in the brushwood. "I saw a guy hurling those little rocks, but I was afraid to say it to the people there. Later, when I spoke with some of them, I was antagonized and even pressured to go away" clains Danilo, a man who made two trips and three courses in Projeto Portal and participated of the rituals during only eight months. "Enough to see that nothing of that was truthful". Now, I am trying to take my niece way from this, she has only sixteen". The defense of myths that are invented by the sect's leader is freely made by followers, what increase the regimentation's efficiency .
But, if those little rocks already cause commotion among the followers, the cave that Urandir has in his property is the lastest hit in ufologic entertainment. It is in this cave, precariously opened in the hillside of a mount, where chosen people who are closer of ETs are awarded and receive from the hands of the former brick-layer, in a proper ritual, bigger rocks called Plates of Akáshicos Registers.
The people that receives the plates are considered special inside the group and known like "plaquistas". The plates would contain, according to Urandir, informations referring to current existence and former lives of the people who receive them, facts about the Humanity and informations about the extraterrestrials. However, they are only ordinary rocks with some scribbles made by a sharp-pointed instrument. " It is the most brilliant Urandir's invention, the people fill bus in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and even Porto Alegre (all cities far way from State of Mato Grosso do Sul) , to go to Corguinho, with the hope to be chosen by Ets in form to receive the plates" said Gustavo, an electrician from State of Sao Paulo, that made two trips and never received any rock... There are people who guarantee that Urandir ordered to dig such cave. Older inhabitants of the region do not remember a hole as that one, which today is the center of attentions. And there are, also, those ones that questioning how, it is possible, that something so important as a Plate of Akáshicos Registers, relative to the essence of human being and his relationship with other races of the space, could be so simple and badly made. The followers run to defend the former brick-layer invented myth and guarantee that "the wisdom does not have proper format. It makes itself comfortable to any appearance and aspect". And here we have one more time what is dealt by Vanderlei D'Agostino in his text: the sect,s leaders present facts that cannot be checked e, thus, corrected. " The affirmations can't also be contradicted in objective way and so fica o dito pelo năo dito."
Marcio, a commercial employee from State of Santa Catarina, a man who has been sued at law by Urandir for having revealed against him on a very popular Brazillian TV show called Programa Fantastico and on Isto é Magazine, claims to Magazine UFO that he was present in the meetings where Urandir explained as the cave should be made and what would happen in there. "I was scaled to clean the place the first time and filmed everything, when the first guy found the plate. Later whem everything was calmed I thought to myself My God, how bad is to trick people on this way". Márcio is not the only one that testified the maneuver around the idea, that today is the sect high point operations and the most attractive for the new integrants. " I went to there and though that everything there was a nonsense. I am an architect and I saw that the cave can fall in any moment and wound the people", declared Maria of Fátima, a girl from State of Parana."Someone that has common-sense sees that it is a decoy". Decoy for some, salvation for others, the cave has attracted thirty bus in determined weekends, when the plates are distributed.
Arsenal of Ideas
The cult's maintenance is something difficult and complex, that demands devotion and renewal of facts, a good armory of ideas and boldness to implement them. So to make this mechanism works , is necessary many gullible and deprived people who searches for answers to their existential gaps - and this we have a lot, nowdays. So, the equation closes perfectly and the ufologic's cults prosper with total force. But none, in any time, and any place of the world, reached the ratios of Projeto Portal. Not even at the glory moments the controversial Eduard Meier had a so huge structure like Urandir does. The institution is well assisted by professionals from many areas, that take care of the technician details, in spite of the extensive guru exposition ufologic world as somebody without credibility.
"Everything happens in Projeto Portal. It's like a scene from scientific fiction", says Urandir to convince his followers."You can see lights, ships and beings .The hill in front is one point where the contacts are more frequent. There we have the same capacity of Bermuda Triangle". The former brick-layer guarantees that on his farm he has three dimensional levels: the planetarium, energy and the dimensional one. "Because of this, we can even receive ships from the eighth dimension". With this kind of arguments, which could never be confirmed, Projeto Portal keeps growing and gathering more and more followers each day. His entourage is geting bigger and the Projeto Portal's farm is like a little town nowadays.
All this complexity demands constant cares, and new facts do not default. In the end of 2001, for example, just after the singer and actor Fábio Júnior short stay in the place, what was commercially explored by Projeto Portal, these leaders had boasted on the Internet and other medias that a UFO crash had happened on the neighboring farm, which was property of Mr. Túlio Alves. By the way, it was for sale but he did not have any buyers at thet time. Mr. Alves declared that the crash did not cause any sound or any destruction in the place, while, in the same interview, granted to TV Morena, affiliated of the Globe TV Network in Campo Grande (State of Mato Grasso do Sul), Urandir affirmed that the accident caused a deafening noise just like "an atomic bomb". The former brick-layer also affirmed that the fall would have killed animals and destroyed the property, what never occurred.
The notes distributed by the marketing staff of Projeto Portal were still more sensationalist. But the boasting worked and again attracted the press and more followers for the year end activities. "The goal was exactly this: to attract curious people to see what had happened there. And even so nothing had happened, the people were there already and spent their money", declared Ricardo, a dentist from Maringa (city of Parana State) to UFO Magazine, who went to Corguinho only once. He gave a clear deposition of which mechanism are used by the project's members to regiment people: they treat you well, they call you brother, they talk about peace and love, and pparently they search for something beautifull, the even holy. But I have this in the churches here in Maringa and I don't need to travel 500 Miles to see it. Even so, the promise wasn't human perfectioning, but contact with ETs. And it did not happen there.
These procedures of regimentation, work for many people. Projeto Portal has in its structure coordinators in many cities, that are commissioned according to the number of people they gather to the Urandir's courses, or for the trips to Mato Grosso do Sul, that are more expensive. The persuation and the union start, therefore, before the person being in front of his leader. The adepts that had joined to the sect before are the responsible ones for stimulating those that came at last to stay with them. Local meetings are carried through with reading and quarrel about presumptions extraterrestrial teachings that "beings of light" would pass on to Urandir, what is accepted as absolute truths. As well as the scribbles created in the plates of the akáshicos registers, conceived for the Projeto Portal's employees who produce them with creativity, are used as a new alphabet, which, according to the adepts belief has extraterrestrial origin. "One day, in the future, this new form of communicating will be taught in the schools", dreams Marina a model from Sao Paulo.
As we can see, there are no limits for boldness of ufologics cults controllers to create facts that attract the public and conquer his confidence, what will result in the obvious way: financial donations. The absence of limits that we relate can be checked in the lastest Urandir's creation, in form to keep his retinue, threatened of exhausting with the lack of newness. Recently, the former brick-layer has claimed that he was victim of a dramatical and unexpected abduction, a few months ago, while he was reading a book lying in his bedroom. The abductee affirmed that he was led by ETs to an intergalactic meeting, in a flying saucer. This meeting has the participation of forty nine different races representatives and, among them, members of the White Fraternity. Urandir affirmed that he was the only representative of the Earth in this important meeting, and that "this fact would change completely the Projeto Portal's mission". To support his story, his followers had taken photos of the place he was at the moment of the alleged abduction. We can see on these photos a pillow with white lace and a blue sheet as burnt by flame thrower. The same effect has in the wooden lining of the room.
Although it is absolutely inconsistent with the abductions' patterns registred around the world, this improbable experience is accepted as true by the former brick-layer's followers, as well as the intergalactic meeting, where Urandir says he saw and was close to Jesus Christ in person "but only quickly..." The story is very creative and impresive to attract new adepts and to fortify the bows that join already the older ones. Even so, it received still more spectacular ornaments. One of them, spreaded by the businessman from Rio de Janeiro Felipe Castello Branco, affirms that round little rocks would have fallen from the ship that took Urandir, at the moment when it came close. In email sent the North American ufologists and published in the sites of the broadcaster Jeff Rense [ www.rense.com ] and the journalist Linda Moulton Howe [ www.earthfiles.com ], Branco affirms that he and more 28 people were witness of the abduction." We have already started a world-wide propagation. So, I ask to everybody be prepared to new things and future works (making exercises, giving the turns around the hill etc), because I did not expected a so quick reaction from the foreign ufologists, said him by email. The future works he refered to, in special the turns around the hill are the such preparation practical for the dreamed contacts. And the unexpected reaction, that started with an interview granted by Urandir and Branco to Rense and Linda, is something that has been seen with extreme concern by the Brazilian ufologists.
"We have to be cautious to not see our serious Ufology confused with this no foundations facts showed by Urandir and his spokesmen" declared the International Coordinator UFO Magazine Brazil, Thiago Luiz Ticchetti. Ticcheti's position is unanimous among Brazilian Ufology Community members. The facts manufactured by Urandir and described by Branco to the North Americans are from the same kind of those which can put in risk the National Ufology credibility.
Through an email where he assumes to be an abduction's eyewitness, Branco claims to have observed what has happened: Urandir being taken by extraterrestrials into an ufo. However, even being such an insistent with the North Americans, he refused to answer to the "UFO" magazine which was in fact his own involvement degree with the bricklayer's setup and hence did not answer to the several e-mails that our editorial staff sent him. His reluctance doesn't match with the voracious way he abroad made use of it, making ironlike defense of Urandir and even trying to internationalize the activities of the sect.
The use of two measures and two weights as we notice in that situation, is a characteristic of those cult movements which carry out some kind of exaggeration - deliberated or incidentally - a way of making noise and gaining space towards the media. In a way, the fast Brazilian ufologists mobilization against such movement, had begun when they sent many of letters and e-mails to their North American colleagues denouncing the fraud. It did end or cooled the debate since it showed off the reality of the facts. "As known, Brazilian Ufology is well recognized abroad because of its quantity and depth of its casuistic as well as because of the high quality work of our ufologists", stated to the UFO magazine, its co-publisher, Mr. Claudeir Covo. He continues: "We cannot let this very position to be threatened because a propagation of a fraud".
From all of the sites which the setup of the abduction's history had been published - along with the imaginary encounter with the 49 races, just as Urandir claims - the only one that still keeps such a material is the Linda Moulton Howe's one, who by the way, has been severely criticized.
As a matter of fact, her position intrigues everyone so far, even her colleagues from the press, who had thought she was a serious and objective journalist as well. Linda, by the way, who has been bombarded by Brazilian ufologists with protests, often refused to hear them out and followed - until past January 15, her obscure campaign to promote Urandir in the USA.
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