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Pedro Ferriz Santa Cruz has passed away today at the age of 92.

I'm aware that to most people visiting this site that name is unfamiliar, yet to many UFO enthusiasts in the Spanish-speaking world, Ferriz is nothing short of a legend. Not only was he one of the first to investigate & popularize the topic in Mexico with his TV program Un Mundo nos Vigila (A World is Watching Us), but he was also a pioneer in Latin American telecommunications. During his long career he managed to interview many of the most important figures of the XXth century –among them Werner Von Braun– and he was also responsible for covering the lunar landing of Apollo XI.

In the field of UFOlogy he was a close friend & associate of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and in 1977 he organized the 1st international UFOlogy congress in Acapulco, Guerrero, which managed to gather the leading investigators in the field —Jacques Vallée, John Keel, Salvador Freixedo, Fabio Zerpa, Enrique Castillo Rincón, Walter Andrus, Hynek, William Spaulding & Ray Stanford.

Ferriz never shied away from expressing his opinions with regards to UFOs, even at the expense of the warm-hearted puns he would occasionally receive in the Mexican media; although nothing as mean-spirited as the way the subject is often ridiculed in the United States or the UK.

There's an anecdote Don Pedro was fond of telling that illustrates this point perfectly: In 1974, during a brunch organized by Mexico’s National Association of Broadcasters in which president Luis Echeverría had been invited as the guest of honor, a few of the attendees started teasing Ferriz with some UFO jokes; but the teasing stopped altogether, when president Echeverría raised his voice and said "I have seen a UFO" in front of the whole perplexed audience. He then proceeded to describe the sighting of a pencil-like 'mothership' which allegedly caused a blackout in the city of Cuernavaca in 1965 [Head over to Open Minds to read the rest].

In fact, when in 1978 Grenada was trying to lobby a UN resolution for the organization of an international effort to study UFOs, Mexico was being informally proposed by some members as the nation to head the initiative. In the preamble of his co-authored book Los Ovni y la Arqueología de México (UFOs & Mexico's Archeology) Don Pedro describes the meeting he had with the next president of Mexico (José López Portillo) who asked him if he would be interested in leading the UN project [See EDIT below]. We all know the initiative fizzled out when Gairy was ousted in Grenada, but this goes to show just how much respect Ferriz enjoyed in the highest echelons of Mexican politics –Srsly now: how many UFOlogists can you name who have received messages of condolences from presidents when they passed away?

Go on, take your time.

Some 28 years or so ago, due to those inscrutable forces that shape the destinies of men, the book I mentioned above fell on my hands. And my life was never the same*.

Now that I'm about to turn 40, I find myself still immerse in the search for answers to questions which governments & scientific organizations still refuse to acknowledge, either because of sheer ignorance or cowardice. I still keep raising my eyes to the stars up above, and feel myself in awe by its sheer vastness. It's in those moments of humbling realization when it's easy to imagine that another world is keeping an eye on us.

Descanse en Paz, Don Pedro. Thank you for opening my eyes, my mind –and my heart.

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(*): Head over to the Intrepid Blog, where you can find an essay I wrote about Los OVNI y la Arquelogía de México, a jewel of a book which should be reprinted & translated to other languages.

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[EDIT] Tonight I went to pick my copy of Los OVNI y la Arqueología de México, and I realized I made a serious mistake: It was in 1972 when a group of Americans requested the intervention of Mexico to launch an international effort to study UFOs. The president at that time was Díaz Ordaz, although Don Pedro does not specify the reason why the initiative didn't prosper.

The reason I became confused is because in that paragraph UN Secretary General U-Thant gets mentioned –U-Thant was particularly interested in the UFO phenomenon, and believed "it stood second in international scientific importance only to Vietnam" [Reference]. In any case, my error illustrates how Don Pedro enjoyed the friendship of several presidents of Mexico.