Fri. Apr 19th, 2019

A Colombian court orders the seizure of the treasure of the galleon San José

A Colombian court orders the seizure of the treasure of the galleon San José

A Barranquilla court ordered the seizure or "sequestration" of the treasure of the Spanish galleon San José, sunk by English privateers near Cartagena de Indias in the 18th century, when an appeal was made by a US company. which claims the rights on 50% of the load.

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This was reported by the Superior Court of Barranquilla in a ruling that was disclosed on Monday, in which it revokes a determination of October 2017 and maintains "the precautionary measure of kidnapping decreed by order of October 12, 1994."

In its ruling, the court states that it revokes "the order dated October 31, 2017 issued by the Third Civil Court of the Circuit of Barranquilla in the oral proceedings (...) promoted by the company Sea Search Armada (SSA) against the nation".

In that order, the court "decided to lift the precautionary measure of kidnapping in the process," against which the US treasurer company SSA filed an appeal.

Sea Search Armada claimed in 1989 "100 percent of the goods of economic, historical, cultural or scientific value that had the quality of treasures for the case of what was found on the continental shelf" or within the coordinates that had been consigned in a confidential report of 1982.

A judge in Barranquilla determined in 1994 that the treasures would correspond 50% to Colombia and another 50% to the US company.

However, the San Jose find was announced on December 4, 2015 by the former Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, whose government launched a tender with foreign companies to extract the wreck from the seabed.

The bidding provided for a percentage of the valuable cargo of precious metals that the ship was carrying as part of payment for that work.

The government of President Ivan Duque, Santos's successor, has repeatedly postponed the terms for hiring the company that will recover the galleon, the most recent of which expired on March 10.

Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez said on Monday that the government will not allow the galleon's treasure to end up in the world's antiquarians.

"Our history and the legacy of our ancestors will not end up being converted into assets to be negotiated by antiquarians, collectors or treasure hunters from all over the world," said Ramírez in Bogotá.

The vice president added that the Colombian Constitution "imposes the commitment to defend the heritage of all Colombians and the government of President Ivan Duque will not spare efforts in this work."

Colombia has a Law, 1675 of July 30, 2013, which aims to "protect, visualize and recover the submerged cultural heritage."

According to said law, all the remains that are in Colombian waters are included in this law, including "the shipwrecked species constituted by the ships or naval artifacts and their endowment, their remains or parts, endowments or recumbent elements within them, whatever their nature or state, and whatever the cause of the immersion, sinking or shipwreck ".

However, that law stipulates that "commercial burdens made of materials in their raw state, whatever their origin, such as pearls, corals, precious and semiprecious stones, sands and woods," shall not be considered "submerged cultural heritage". "Serial personal property that would have had exchange or fiscal value such as coins and bullion".

It also includes the possibility of making a public-private partnership for a treasure hunt company to recover the wreck and obtain a compensation of "up to 50% of the value of the goods (in this case, in the galleon) that do not constitute the cultural heritage of the nation".

The San Jose, laden with gold from the Viceroyalty of New Granada, silver from Peru and precious stones, went down on June 8, 1708 after being hit by cannons of English corsairs.


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