Trindade Case: Almiro Baraúna?s Nephew Claims That The Photos Are Fake (part 3)

07 de Fevereiro de 2011
Baraúna in 1997
Créditos: Marco A. Petit

The revelation of the Baraúna’s Secret

We now present the interview done on January 27th and 30th 2011 with Marcelo Ribeiro, Baraúna’s nephew. In it, he claimed that the will reveal, in details, the Baraúna’s secret, kept hidden for 53 years.

What is the Truth About the Pictures? They are not true. Also because there is no flying saucer, is there? If there were, don’t you think that he\'d only be able to shoot it? He told me this story and made so much money at the time. He told several stories to other people. Even I saw an interview on television, in the Fantastico TV show, as others did. There is a girl [Emilia Bittencourt] who said he told her about it. That is not true either, she told all lies.

What do you mean, can you explain it to us? The real story is not that. In fact, people saw something there. There was something, a cloud formation, something. He was taking pictures underwater, for the Navy, and was climbing to the vessel, he had no film in the camera. He had already used it all. When people saw that thing, he thought it was nothing, but as a reporters, first we click and then we watch. He had no film, but he acted as if he had a dozen photos there, running and hitting. And he ran to his cabin to catch some more film. When he returned, the thing was no longer there, theformation had disappeared.

So, he photographed nothing? There, he photographed nothing. He photographed the sky. Then he set up a montage in the laboratory. He had done other things such as the treasure trick to the Mundo Ilustrado. And there was no treasure, it was outright lying. He liked to play with that, he was not in bad faith. He liked the fact that he could show people believed anything. Baraúna was a great joker and had a fantastic sense of humor. He was a charming person and a very funny guy in this sense, played a lot. There were chips used to ride by bus in Rio de Janeiro back at that time. I saw him doing it once in his house. He hung the chip in the window against the night sky. He did these things many times. So he did, and people believed it, so he let it rappened.

So I\'m understanding that something actually appeared in the sky, but he couldn’t take any picture? No, because he had no film. When he was leaving the water there were no films.

So he pretended to be taking pictures? Some people aboard the ship saw him clicking and rolling the button. People saw it, so they believed he had done it.

But there was something in the sky? An object? A disk? Of course! Not a object. It appeared be a cloud formation or whatever, a meteorological balloon. Something appeared. The people saw something.

Barauna claimed that he was on the deck at the time of the sighting. When he left the water of course that he was on the deck, right? When he got there the people were saying: "look!". And he saw it. He saw that there was something out there. Then he simulated it there, because he knew that later he could simulate the rest. Baraúna was a very smart person. He didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

Rolleiflex films at that time had 12 poses. Had he already spent them all? Yes. He had already spent several rolls there, because he used to dive with two or three cameras. Each camera had a 12-pose film. So he ran into the cabin, put another film in the camera, then went back and tried to do something else to see what he could get. That is our normal behavior as photographers, we take every opportunity. When he got home, news broke about a UFO sighting, so he said "Hey! I’m gonna make some money with that. Everybody is spotting flying saucers, I’m gonna make a flying saucer". And so he made good money.

In the interview with Emilia Bittencourt in 2010 he said the flying saucer was made of one spoon on top of another. Not at all. If you try it with a spoon, you will see it is not possible to make it. That is the same thing Barauna told her. Didn’t I tell you he was such a joker? Even with family and friends he was like that. And Emilia was not a family member, but just a friend. Everybody was teasing him and wanted to know: "How did you do it?" He used to say: "Well, that’s a lie, I didn’t really do it", and so on. People just got so curious. At the same time, he also seemed to be joking when he said it was a lie. Can you understand that? He was a great joker. Barauna was unique. If you get two spoons, you can not make it. I am a photographer and I know it is not possible.

crédito: Murillo Ribeiro
Marcelo Ribeiro, photographer and nephew of Baraúna
Marcelo Ribeiro, photographer and nephew of Baraúna

So what might he have used in order to make a flying saucer? He used bus chips from the old Rio de Janeiro fleet.

He had previously prepared a report with these chips [In 1954, to Mundo Ilustrado magazine]. Yes. He knew he could do that with the chips.

So he just repeated the trick? Yes. He was a great lab technician and could do unbelievable things. He was fantastic, a first class black-and-white photographer. All that I know about photography I learned from him. When Barauna was a photographer and I was a child in the family he was looked down upon. Because, at that time, a photographer was someone who could not succeed in anything else. It was a second class occupation. However, I was still a child and fascinated by him. He was married to my aunt. I was fascinated by his character and he was a great human figure. He lived a good life and enjoyed it a lot.

How could he get away witch it considering that the negatives were analysed by Cruzeiro do Sul? They analysed the grains. The grains are real. If you analyse the granularity, the grains are there, because he photographed the chips against a dark sky. The image is real.

So he prepared a double exposure? He took the chip and inserted it into the island’s landscape? Of course! That is easy to make.

Technical examinations would not detect it? No, of course not. Let me tell you, one of my fellows from work and travels is also a great black-and-white photographer. He was awarded a prize by Asahi Pentax, in Japan, by running with a reproduction of a picture he had made with another camera. In order to participate in a contest by Nikon, Pentax, or Canon, you send them the negatives and you must run with a picture made with the lenses of a camera sponsoring the contest. He had taken a beautiful picture using a Yashica [camera not taking part in the contest]. So he just amplified that picture in paper then took a picture of it with an Asahi Pentax. The picture was so well done that the grain of a Pentax would not show because it was a paper reproduction, and a very good one. You will only have the grain structure of the camera used.

So he reproduced the island’s negative in the photographic paper then took a picture with the chips hanging at that image’s sky? No. It was a double exposure. He took the picture of the UFO against the night sky. It was in his home at Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro. After that he printed it altogether with the island’s sky. He photographed the chip, which is the UFO, then combined it with the island’s picture. He added both together. The quality of this work depends on one’s ability to do it. If I try it, everybody would know it was me. I am not good at it. I am a good photographer, but not a skilled lab technician.

So you mean that it was different from that Japanese contest you’ve mentioned, when the photographer took a picture of a printed photo? Yes, this is different. [In the contest] he photographed a picture. He made a high quality enlargement and photographed that enlarged printed picture.

Can we say the Navy and the Cruzeiro do Sul were "self-deluded"? I wouldn’t say that. The truth is that you can not catch it. It is not that they were incompetent. The thing is that you see what you want to see. The same way people in that ship believed they had seen a UFO, technicians believed Barauna had photographed one. This is how their minds worked while they were checking the negatives. This is not to say that they were incompetent or in bad faith, but they would never get it by the grain structure. That structure was a real one.

Isn’t there any other means of analysis to detect the double exposure? No. Not even an American, a German, or whoever else. Of course not. Just like the Japanese [at the contest] could not detect it either. The negative my uncle sent to the Navy was the manipulated one. Therefore, the UFO and the island grains are the same. They are the same because they are in the same negative. He was so skilled that no one could spot the trick he made in his lab. That is when he could have made a mistake which would show in the negative. However, he was so good at it that the technicians could not find anything. Also, the sky there [Trindade island] was not blue during the day. It was cloudy, a bit grayish and that made his work even easier. If the sky were blue, it would be more difficult to mock it up.

After Barauna developed the negatives in the ship, Captain Bacellar took them while still wet and said he saw the object in it. Barauna said the crew also looked through magnifying lenses and said the object in the negative was the one they saw in the sky. How could Barauna drible that too? There was nothing there. Not everyone knows how to look at a negative. Everybody looks at it and so what? Do you know how to look at a negative if you are not a photographer or a lab technician? There are even some photographers who can not do it. Only technicians know how to technically look at a negative. When someone says: "it’s here, do you see it?", others will say: "Yes, I see it". Anyone will say they see it. I very much doubt someone would say: "I can’t see anything, you’re lying". If you show it, people will say they see, because the suggestion would lead you to say so. You have to consider that it happened in the 1950s, a decade in which everyone believed in these things. They appeared all the time.

Where are these much desired negatives. Did O Cruzeiro keep them? No. The negatives were kept by him and he did not leave them with anyone. No one saw those negatives again. He used to say he would leave them with me, but he died suddenly. I think he was postponing...

Wouldn’t they be with his niece? No, not with her. He did not keep them in the archives she has. He left that folder with his wife. After his wife passed away, his niece went there and took them. They always said they would leave that with me, because I was a photographer and also his nephew. I saw those negatives in his house. He didn’t leave them with anybody. He kept them. He finished with them and used to say: "I would later leave that all to you in a written form as an inheritance. After that you tell this story".

Did he tell you to reveal the whole story? Yes. I used to say to him: "Barauna, tell it all at once, you’re gonna laugh a lot". And he replied: "No. I would be demoralized. The guys will get mad at me".

So Barauna told you that you could tell everything after his death? Yes. He told me the truth for many reasons. First, he knew I never believed in any story of flying saucers at all. I used to say: "Barauna, flying saucers do not exist. What was that? Was that a cloud of an unusual shape, anyway, tell me what that was because these things do not exist". Second, I am a photographer as well. I would be his successor, he had no kids. I was somewhat like a son. When I started to get interested in photography I would go to his house at 9 pm an to come back home at 6 or 7 am. He would teach me and we would practice in the lab. We had a close relationship and he was proud of that. When I was awarded by Nikon, he was amazed and said: "Man, so what I taught you was worth it. You got an award by Nikon!" We had a beautiful relationship.

crédito: UFO Archives
Detail with the chip of the old fleet of Rio (frota carioca), on another occasion used by Baraúna to demonstrate how to perform a trick
Detail with the chip of the old fleet of Rio (frota carioca), on another occasion used by Baraúna to demonstrate how to perform a trick

Brief comparison with the famous UFO photos of Trindade, inverted for better demonstration:

crédito: UFO Archives
Photo 2, flipped vertically for comparison
Photo 2, flipped vertically for comparison

If an analysis of the negatives was done today, would it detect the hoax? No. Technology improved some things, but the analysis you would do is the same. It doesn’t mean that you could count on some modern equipment. And I would not call that a hoax. I call that a big joke, because that did not really exist. A hoax to me is when you try to fraud something that really exists. Flying saucers do not exist. We are isolated here. There is no possibility of something coming from another planet. There would be billions and billions of light-years. Otherwise, physicists would all believe in the possibility of a flying saucer. You take Marcelo Gleiser, one of the greatest physicists in the world, and ask him about it. He starts laughing. He doesn’t believe there is a God, would he believe in flying saucers?

The positives have been analysed and people say the clouds look different in the images as if the weather had dramatically changed. However, Barauna said the object appeared for a few seconds only. Maybe people can find out something by looking at the positives. But what they did before was analyzing the grain structure. This analysis is a different thing: people are looking for clouds position and so on. But it will not prove anything either. They can only say it looks like this or that. They can say they believe it is not real for this or that reason. But it is really not.

There is yet another analysis. It seems Barauna took the UFO from the first picture and inverted it 180º in another one. You could turn the chips upside down. There was a little hole in the middle through which he passed a black thread over a black sky background. You can not see the black thread. You will think the chip is hanging in space, because the background is black. He also put some light against it and polished the chip to make it shine. I saw him doing that at night at his home.

Did you see him making the Trindade picture exactly? Not exactly this one. I saw another one he made for another story, another joke.

Barauna also said the negatives were analyzed by Kodak, in Rochester, USA. No. That never happened. Only the Navy and the service of aerophotogrammetry of Cruzeiro do Sul, which was a very good service, analized the pictures. They had a very good lab and also very good technicians. Barauna had worked there.

Had he worked there? So he knew about their abilities? Everybody there knew him. He knew those technicians would never detect it [the hoax], because it is not possible to detect. That is not the way.

You said that some of the military saw the UFO, but how about Barauna? Did he see it or not? Yes, he could see it. There was something there, some design, a formation, a cloud, something. But he did not have any more films so he ran to get some because, if it was not possible to photograph, he knew what to do later. He wanted to sell that to newspapers and magazines, as he did. The newspaper Correio da Manha bought it. Then he could buy a lot of equipment, very expensive stuff, all because of those pictures.

Some newspapers at that time said he could even buy an apartment. This is true. He bought an apartment at the corner of Coronel Moreira Cezar St. and Canal St., in Niteroi, RJ.

Did he also equip his lab with that money? Yes. He even bought a motorbike at that time.

So it was a lot of money? As I heard it would be 40,000 cruzeiros. I don’t remember. He sold that all over the world. The amount should be around that. It was a lot of money. In today’s money it should be over 400,000 reais (USD 240,000).

Who paid for that? Was it O Cruzeiro magazine? No. He first sold it to the newspaper Correio da Manha. Then O Cruzeiro decided to publish a full report, so he sold it to O Cruzeiro, and then to European and US magazines. There was no internet or cable TV at that time. There was nothing, it was a different thing. Materials were published here, correspondents would see it, then call others saying: "Look, we have some material". So the other side would decide about buying it or not. In total he made around that amount. I do not know, do not remember anymore. Really, he bought an apartment, a motorbike, a Hasselblad camera, a Leica camera – all first class and very expensive equipment.

In 2003 I called Amilcar Vieira, Barauna’s friend. He said he saw the flying saucer and would die with that in mind. He said people could say whatever they wanted, but he really saw it. He saw it. He really did. People see whatever they want to see. I say that because I am a photographer by choice, but my education background is psychology. I have an idea about how people’s mind works. For over 20 years I was married to a psychoanalyst from the State University of Rio de Janeiro. All of my life was surrounded by Freud talks. So I know that people see what they want to see. And more, at that time people did not know what was possible or not. There were no rockets going to the Moon and the knowledge about the Universe was even poorer than today.

Looking that way, would it be a mass hysteria by the military onboard? Of course. They got all fascinated and everybody saw a flying saucer.

Is there any possibility that he had prepared the pictures beforehand? No, not before. He had made a report before which was not dismissed. People believed it was true. People also believed the story about the beach treasure [at Praia dos Franceses]. He knew he could play like that. We use to play with people’s imagination.

Does that mean he arrived at the island without knowing anything? After something appeared in the sky he decided to prepare a joke? Of course. He used to say: "Well, it could mean some money". Barauna was a clever guy. He was quick to realize that, "if everyone believes it, I’m gonna make money". But I insist he did not do that in bad faith. It is important to make it clear. He did that as a big joke, because that was the way he was. He liked to make that kind of jokes.

And the Navy bought the story. They did because they take everything very seriously. They have that kind of strict thinking which led everyone to believe. When the Captain said he saw it do you think anybody would deny him? That’s how it works, especially in a time when people really believed it was possible. Everything added to make it seem real. Such were the circumstances and the time. Discoveries about the Universe were just in the beginning. Do you see how much science has discovered from that time until now?

What is most surprising is that even 20 or 30 years later he never revealed anything. He gave so many interviews and still never told anything. I have recorded one of his interviews as well. And he talks about it seriously [laughing]. Actually, I think it was more and more difficult for him to tell the truth as he was getting older. I really think he had that kind of concern. He said: "Hey, I’d be demoralized", also because he made a lot of money with that.

People would see it in a different way. People would call him a charlatan. Right. They would call him a charlatan. I think there is also that side to the story. He might have thought: "If people believed, then let it be".

Did his widow, Soraia, know it was nothing but a big joke? Which one? He had two. Soraia was the second wife, the one who died later. He lived with both all the time. One of them was my aunt, my father’s sister. He met Soraia many years later. Soraia knew it and my aunt also knew.

Did every family member know about the hoax? No. Only Soraia, my aunt and I.

How about his niece? No. She didn’t know it. Not the real truth. To each one who asks he would tell a different story. At the same time he was always making fun of everyone. No one knew which story was true. He would tell another story each time, so each person got a different one. Emilia was told this story about the spoon.

Wouldn’t it be possible to make it by cutting the handle of a table spoon? No. Of course not. You will see it cannot be. No way. The design of a spoon is not the same. There is not such a thing.

How about the members of the Submarine Fishing Club? Did they know it was a mockery? No. Barauna was not stupid. He could not let anyone know, otherwise he would be demoralized. There was also the issue of the Navy. The fact that the Navy was involved could even result in a jail sentence, especially under an authoritarian regime which was even worse at that time. The military were preparing for the 1964 coup after the one in 1955. I also did not give much importance to the whole story. I used to tease Barauna and he would laugh a lot.

I would like to finish by thanking you for these very clarifying statements. It is alright. I just want you to put out the truth. It is not to say he was a charlatan or anything of the sort, because he was not. He was just a joker, a great one. Few people treated Ufology as seriously as he did. He was a great and admirable photographer.

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