The interviewee had to cover the lollipop wave in the midst of great professional stress and uncertainties that the phenomenon generated as to its nature
Credits: RAFAEL AMORIM
In the geography of facts, the unusual, the bizarre and the pathetic sometimes reside in the same region. And they walk very close to each other, although along parallel streets. When the unusual intrudes on these three paths, everything merges into a single word, limited by human understanding: mystery. The challenge, for science and scholars, is to unravel it. For a reporter, trying to reproduce it or clarify it, separating truth from lies, emotion from reason, skepticism from belief. My personal impressions of the wave of the lollipop phenomenon were worthless. The commitment to the facts, the diversity of sources and their reports, was what was really at stake.
Never had he covered such an intriguing and unusual subject as the attacks of the “vampire light” or “light of fear” on the northern region of the country and the respective Operation Prato, the military mission put in place to investigate it. The character of the journalistic focus were the victims of the strange phenomenon, but there was something special that was above that: what came from the sky, appeared out of nowhere, emitted a luminous jet, paralyzing and invasive, and then left at high speed. In extreme cases, light drew blood from human bodies. Because? For what? What was it, where did it come from, what did it want? These were questions that, over a series of interviews — more than 80 — would hammer my head for decades, even to this day, without reaching answers, if not conclusive, at least satisfying.
I was used to covering political fights, intrigues between rulers, the struggle for power, the repression of the military dictatorship under which we lived, conflicts over land tenure, smuggling of minerals, devastation of the Amazon, slave labor and invasion of indigenous lands to steal wood. . Events in which the characters were flesh and blood, had notorious personal and collective interests, names, addresses, CPF number, identity and fingerprints. That is, human traces and footprints. However, as my main characters in the new investigation were lights, of different shapes, colors and sizes, I didn’t even know where to start. What is called in the newsrooms the “hook” of the matter was missing. The “whom” to investigate had no face, address or reliable sources to point the way. Even to establish the contradiction, the face to face, the ample defense. I was stepping on the shaky ground of “I saw”, with reports that reached me, without knowing for sure what had been seen by victims and witnesses. The lollipop was a total mystery.
A groundless reporter. That’s how I felt. I had to turn around to get the answers I was looking for. I decided that my investigative nose would be guided by intuition. The only alternative I had. A journalist without intuition is always on the edge of the abyss, ready to take the step forward. The physical means of investigating those facts were beyond my reach. There was no way to take a plane, single engine, or helicopter, to follow a mysterious light, observe it closely, provoke contact and establish some opinion about what it was or was not.
I didn’t even have binoculars to try to locate those unusual lights, ships, probes or things like that. To be honest, my only working weapons were a Panasonic cassette recorder, which required four large batteries, several TDK brand tapes, some with international rock music and Brazilian songs that I liked to listen to, to relax, while writing “normal” articles. ” on the newspaper’s old Remington typewriter. The ammunition was a massive pad of paper and some Bic pens.
As for information about what I was going to investigate, I had only intellectual curiosity in my head and the memory of films like 2001, A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece; George Pal’s War of the Worlds; Vampires of Souls, by Don Siegel; and O Planeta dos Apes, by director Franklin J. Schaffner, as well as series like Star Trek and even the naive and sometimes hilarious Lost in Space, which were hugely successful on television screens in Belém. It was laughable. Films and literature about ETs and life in other worlds was what the poor devil reporter had left. It was already something, a compass — today’s GPS — to fall into the world of earthly ills and understand, or at least try to, what was happening in the panicked region of Pará. Panic that increased with each new attack, which by now were already commonplace.
The real and the imaginary
The real and the unreal have always challenged me. Everything for me was always very clear. The real was the real, while the unreal was the illusion, the fantasy. Or, to be more generous, fiction. How foolish of me. The real and the imaginary have always been and will be continuous. What separates them is scientific dogmatism when trying to explain them, isolating them. While I searched in my mind for an answer that would be – thinking about the report of those two ladies in the newspaper office about the attacks they suffered -, the blindest sectors of science, those that offer definitive answers to everything, even to inexplicable facts, would throw me in a whirlwind of uncertainty. They didn’t offer me the answer I was chasing about the phenomenon that had plagued the lives of humble and frightened people. Space vampires, whether they existed or not,