It was a hot and stormy night in the Mexican state of Tabasco on June 1, 1973. In the company town of Ciudad Pemex something very strange was going on. The people in the town could see it with their eyes and sense it. In an interview done some 47 years after that fateful night, a 67-year-old eyewitness known only as Armando gave his account to a local newspaper, El Heraldo de Tabasco and the story was picked up by many other Mexican publications, including La Prensa out of Mexico City. In his interview, Armando stated:
“The night everything happened, there was a big electrical storm. I was just getting to the house when gusts of wind and lightning broke out, and people locked themselves in because it was really scary to see that. The lightning bolts were like strange colors, I had never seen anything like this. My wife (Marisela) was very scared, she prayed and lit candles, but nothing could calm her down. It rained from 8 or 9 at night and did not stop until dawn. To top it off, there was a blackout that lasted several hours …
“At ten or ten thirty, Marisela, who could not sleep, well, it occurs to her to lean out of the window, and she screams tremendously. I got up. It turns out that among the lightning bolts you could see lights moving from one side to the other, but they weren’t airplanes, they were like fireballs of different colors that danced among the lightening.
“The strangest thing was that while the storm fell and these lights were seen, from the Military Air Base number 16 of the Mexican Navy, which is nearby, sounds of bombs and detonations could be heard. The explosions shook the earth, the animals. The corral and the dogs were scared, later it was said that the explosions were artillery from the air base, which was shooting at the lights.
“The next thing I’m going to say may sound hard to believe, but it’s the truth: the next day all the neighbors were alarmed because some said that an object had landed in the pastures of the El Limón Ranchería. At first, I didn’t understand what they wanted to say with the word ‘object,’ but later I knew it; a flying saucer, or a UFO, as they say now.”
Located 36 miles east of the state capital of Villahermosa, Ciudad Pemex was built in 1958 after the discovery of one of the largest gas and oil reserves in the entire country. The state-run oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX, built the city to house petroleum workers and support staff after appropriating half of the land from a gigantic ranch called El Limón. Ciudad Pemex was built mostly on a swamp on the eastern shores of a small shallow inland lake called Laguna Majada. When the city was first built, thousands of people came from all over Mexico to work in the Ciudad Pemex Gas Processing Complex, or on the two pipelines going from the newly constructed town to Mexico City and to Mérida in the Yucatán. Years after the city’s founding, the Mexican government built the military air base nearby to accommodate the growing Mexican Air Force and ostensibly to protect one of the largest oil and gas fields ever discovered in the country. The population of Ciudad Pemex reached its height in the 1960s and now some 5,000 or so people live in this company town.
The events of that June day in 1973 were experienced by thousands of people but few would come forward to talk about it all until decades later, even though what happened attracted the brief attention of the press at the time. Many people saw the multicolored lights display of the storm and strange objects moving about the clouds. They heard large “boom” sounds coming from the direction of the military base, and some townsfolk assumed that the Mexican Air Force was doing battle with the aerial objects. The intermittent blackouts throughout the night caused another level of fear among the people of Ciudad Pemex. The storm, the strange lights and the blackouts lasted until dawn.
In the morning, after the storm passed, there were rumors around town that one of the mysterious flying objects had crashed in a grassy cow pasture on the El Limón rancho. A group of university students went out to the ranch to investigate. On their way to the crash site, the small group of youths encountered a man named Rogelio Ramos, a squatter who lived in a remote part of the ranch, in the vicinity of the alleged landing site. Señor Ramos claimed to have seen the UFO take off from the cow pasture and pointed the young students to the general area. Ramos said he saw a “beautiful ball of fire” rise to approximately 1,000 feet high. The object stopped over a ravine and made a loud humming noise. It then shot across the sky, eventually disappearing. Following Señor Ramos’ directions, the university students eventually found the supposed landing site. When they arrived at the cow pasture, they saw a circular burnt area of grass and pieces of wood reduced to charcoal measuring about 15 feet in diameter. There was more to this landing site, however. One of the students, Héctor Sastre, told the press that they found traces of creatures, tracks approximating those of a large bird. They identified four different types of footprints: two medium-sized, with four toes about 4 inches in length; and two larger ones, 8 to 12 inches long, with three toes. The witness recalled that “they were marks like the legs of a giant hen, about 8 inches long, with three toes in front and a spur in the back”; and he described the tracks as yellowish in color and with a kind of slimy trail.
The yellow slime and strange gigantic bird tracks were also reported in town. A newspaper account at the time stated that the strange residue and the footprints were spotted on Sánchez Mármol Street near its intersection with Avenida 16 de Septiembre. This location in the southern part of town is near the end of the main runway of the military base. Some claimed at the time that the yellow slime got into the sewers and spread throughout town, even appearing inside people’s homes.
There are many conflicting stories about what happened that day including eyewitness accounts of the creatures that supposedly left the tracks. Some say they were large birdlike beings standing about the same height as humans, with small beaks, bluish in appearance and having blunt remnants of feathers, almost like what one would see on a plucked chicken. Strangely, this description matches what people have classified as the “Avian Race” of aliens, first encountered in rural France just 11 years before the Ciudad Pemex incident. Others who claimed to have seen the creatures claimed that they had more of a look of a reptile than bird. These witnesses believed they saw greenish beings with scales and feet that were more chicken-like than reptile. Again, there is a parallel in the UFO literature, a race of extraterrestrials called “The Reptilians” first reported in a Nebraska abduction encounter just six years before the Ciudad Pemex incident. Another person, who said he saw another craft land near the air base, claimed to have seen the creatures and they were more insect-looking in appearance. This description approximates yet another alleged alien race commonly found in UFO reports, “The Insectoids.” These creatures supposedly work closely with the nefarious Greys, the most recognized extraterrestrial found in flying saucer lore; beings with big heads, dark almond-shaped eyes, and spindly bodies. The first insectoid alien encounter purportedly happened in Ohio 16 years before the Ciudad Pemex incident. Appearances aside, some people claimed that the creatures were simply demons sent directly from Hell. The handful of witnesses who dared speak about the sightings of creatures were questioned by military officials. Other eyewitnesses refused to talk after rumors of brutal government interrogations spread through the town. It took decades for many people to come forward and talk about what happened that day, and when they did talk, they chose to remain anonymous or were very careful about what they said.
Almost 50 years later researchers are somewhat puzzled as to what happened on June 1, 1973 in this remote part of the Mexican state of Tabasco. Hard-core skeptics claim that swamp gas and ball lightening were to blame for the sightings of supposed UFOs during the violent electrical storm that evening. Everything else can be chalked up to mass hysteria and embellishments over time. The claims of artillery fire from the base can be explained away as simple thunder, and the blackouts can be justified as being the byproducts of such an intense storm. Others who are not so skeptical believe that the Mexican military, along with NASA or some other US government alphabet agency, was conducting certain experiments at the nearby base during the storm that either attracted extraterrestrials or opened portals to other dimensions or universes. When the experiments got out of hand, the military opened fire on the alien craft and then spent days doing “clean-up” by cordoning off possible multiple crash or landing sites and by intimidating the town into silence. We may never know what happened on that mysterious June day over and around Ciudad Pemex. Much of the incident remains shrouded in mystery.
Vega, Ángel. “Tabasco: 47 años de enigma.” In, El Heraldo de Tabasco. 14 Oct 2020. (in Spanish)
La Prensa archives (in Spanish)