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Tue May 10, 2016, 10:21 PM

Spain proposes to leave $4B treasure on Caribbean seafloor to avoid conflict with Colombia

Source: Colombia Reports

Spain proposes to leave $4B treasure on Caribbean seafloor to avoid conflict with Colombia

written by Adriaan Alsema May 10, 2016

In order to avoid conflict with Colombia over who owns the $4 to $7 billion treasure inside the galleon San Jose, Spain proposed Monday to leave the treasure on the Caribbean seafloor where it has been for more than 300 years.

The galleon, sunk by a British war ship in 1708, was found in December off the coast of Cartagena, one of Colombia’s most popular tourist destinations.

However, after finding possibly the biggest treasure in history, three parties laid claim to it: Colombia, Spain and US investors who had financed the search.

In order to avoid an international legal battle between Spain and Colombia, Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala told Colombian newspaper El Tiempo the best idea would be to leave the ship and use parts of its treasure for a museum.

Read more: http://colombiareports.com/spain-proposes-leave-4b-treasure-caribbean-seafloor-avoid-conflict-colombia/

14 replies, 1590 views

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Reply Spain proposes to leave $4B treasure on Caribbean seafloor to avoid conflict with Colombia (Original post)
Judi Lynn May 2016 OP
PersonNumber503602 May 2016 #1
rpannier May 2016 #2
GummyBearz May 2016 #7
No Vested Interest May 2016 #3
happyslug May 2016 #4
packman May 2016 #8
happyslug May 2016 #9
NWCorona May 2016 #11
happyslug May 2016 #12
happyslug May 2016 #5
Sunlei May 2016 #6
djg21 May 2016 #10
happyslug May 2016 #13
Old Vet May 2016 #14

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue May 10, 2016, 10:44 PM

1. I wonder how they'll protect it if they go that route.

I wonder how hard it would be to keep it secure.

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Response to PersonNumber503602 (Reply #1)

Wed May 11, 2016, 12:23 AM

2. Don't think it will work without real effort

Every greedy idiot with a pair of swim fins or a few mil to finance people with swimfins will make the effort
(IMO) Their best bet is to get who owns it rectified to keep it from happening

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Response to rpannier (Reply #2)

Wed May 11, 2016, 09:07 AM

7. That was my first thought

 

Going to get my wetsuit and fins out of storage then booking a flight to columbia. I'm gonna be rich!!!

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed May 11, 2016, 12:33 AM

3. Wouldn't another solution be to split the treasure three ways-

Spain, Colombia, and US investors?

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Response to No Vested Interest (Reply #3)

Wed May 11, 2016, 08:42 AM

4. I see that as the ultimate solution, but first you have to calm people down.

 

Investors claim to have found the ship in 1981, but refused to give its location and demanded 65% of the gold. Columbia refused that request even through the Columbia Supreme Court did rule a 50/50 split was legal. The investors then made a claim in the US Courts, which ruled this was a case involving a War Ship and SPAIN is the place for such litigation and dismissed the case. In 2015 the Columbia Navy revealed it had found the ship but is keeping its location secret. Thus the investors are out of luck, they should have agreed to what the Columbia Supreme Court agreed to. Now they will get nothing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_galleon_San_Jos%C3%A9

Under International Law, Warships always belong to the nation they belong to when sunk. Since this was a WARSHIP, Spain has a good claim to the treasure. Columbia claim is weaker, for it is based that the ship lays in territorial waters of Columbia, but outside the traditional three mile limit. Under the international Law governing resources, Countries can control the waters off their coast for 200 miles, OR the half way point to the land mass of another Country, whichever is shorter, Columbia claims this include salvage rights, but that has NOT been decided by the Courts. If the ship had been in the traditional three mile limit, the Ship would be Columbia's but it was found OUTSIDE those limits. Please remember the exact location is a state secret in Columbia but if it is within the three mile limit, no dispute, but if it is outside the three mile limit, that may explain why Spain is involved.

Side Note: The law as to salvage of CIVILIAN SHIPS is quite clear, the original owner has the right to salvage, unless it has "abandon" the salvage. If no abandonment has occurred, then the original owner has first claim on anything from the Salvage. Time is NOT a factor. In the 1990s, the US Supreme Court ruled that a Civlian Ship sunk in the 1850s had NOT been abandoned by its owners. The original Owners had claim the Ship on their insurance, but part of that claim was any rights those owners had to the ship, became the insurance company's property (i.e. the Insurance Company was the "Owner" of the ship). When the ship was found and gold was found on the ship, the Insurance Company said it has NEVER abandoned its claim. The mere fact it did not KNOW where the ship was, and the technology did not exist to recover the gold, did NOT add up to abandonment. The Supreme Court agreed with that position. This rule does NOT apply in this case for the ship involved is a WARSHIP and a different set of rules come into play.

As to the investors, they are subject to what ever law applies, all they are entitled to is the cost of salvage plus a reasonable profit for doing the work, NOT a share in what is recovered (Remember this is a WARSHIP, if the ship had been a Civilian Ship they would have a much better claim). The Investors refused to deal offered by the Columbia Supreme Court, so they have no one to blame bit themselves.

I suspect what Spain is doing here is saying to Columbia, lets compromise, lets split the treasure and give the investors only what is reasonable for their work. Thus instead of one winner and one loser, you end up with two winners. The problem is to many high ranking people in Columbia are saying this is Columbia's treasure and it should stay in Columbia. Spain by saying leave the treasure where it is, is saying, lets cut a deal and avoid fighting over this.

As to the three mile limit, that was the max range of black powder cannons and was first revealed in the 1500s and based on that fact. Longer range required the invention of Smokeless power in the 1880s, which in turn lead to the increase in territorial waters to 12 miles.

The investors also have a problem, the Columbia Supreme Court ruling applies to the location the Investors provided the court. It appears the ship is NOT at that location. The investors have said the ship has moved and the Columbia Supreme Court ruling gives its a claim to a broad area, but the Columbia Government is saying the ruling only applies to that location. I suspect the Investors had given the WRONG location to the Government so the Government could NOT recover the treasure itself. The problem is that since the Government had found the ship itself, the Government is saying the investors will be held to what they had said in the past. You lie to the Government, you will be held to that lie.

http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-colombia-treasure-20160110-story.html

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Response to happyslug (Reply #4)

Wed May 11, 2016, 09:16 AM

8. Learned something new today - thanks

about the 3 mile limit- always wondered why it was set at that distance.

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Response to packman (Reply #8)

Wed May 11, 2016, 09:21 AM

9. After you posted, i added the comment about the investors

 

Just to point out to you and anyone else reading this thread, that my comment you made a comment on has changed since you made your comment.

As to the three mile limit, a lot of old laws reflected the technology of the time period and much of it survived changed in technology and society. The classic case was that the land owned by a wife came under the control of her husband. The reason for that rule was as her husband he had to perform any MILITARY duty tied in with owning the land. Since ownership of land and military duty were tied together, someone had to perform that military duty, and to pay for the equipment to do that duty the person who had to perform that duty obtained complete control of that land. Revenue from the land went to pay for the armor, weapons and horses needed by such knights. Thus that a husband obtain complete control over his wife's property made perfect sense in 1100. Come the 1400s, the Kings of England, ignoring the Magna Carta (Which Forbade the switching of Military duty for taxes unless the taxed person agreed), decided it preferred mercenaries, transformed such military service to taxes. Women can pay taxes as while as men, thus the REASON for a husband's control of his wife's land disappeared. The reason for the rule had disappeared, but the rule itself survived another 400 years.

Just another example of technology and culture changing, but the law taking centuries to adjust to the change.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #4)

Wed May 11, 2016, 10:13 AM

11. Very good post!

I wasn't aware of the abandonment rule and the part about keeping the lost ships on insurance rolls.

Thanks!

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Response to NWCorona (Reply #11)

Wed May 11, 2016, 10:45 AM

12. When I first read about that case I was shocked.

 

On the other hand, it does make sense for this is all judicial made law, Congress has stayed away from making the law clearer. Most states have a rule that any found property, where the owner can NOT be found, belongs to the State, as oppose to the Common Law rule that it belonged to the finder. The Common Law rule was such property remained the property of whoever lost it, but if that can NOT be determined, then to the person who found it. As I said above, the rule today in most states is such lost property remains the property of whoever lost it, but if that can NOT be determined, then it belongs to the state NOT the finder.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed May 11, 2016, 08:57 AM

6. Cartagena spent time there, just how can they plan to keep treasure hunters from dredging seafloor?

bring it up as a group of interested parties and place it all in a Cartagena museum before its 'stolen' by someone else.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed May 11, 2016, 09:43 AM

10. The articles don't indicate the depth of the wreck.

 

We probably can assume that it is at a depth that would preclude access by even technical divers breathing mixed gases. Otherwise, it would have been found and looted earlier.

The wreck could be pretty safe if left alone, as any salvage operation likely would rely on surface vessels carrying submarines capable of reaching the depth of the wreck, and such an effort would be pretty easily detected. I don't know how much of a marine museum it would make if no one is able to access it, but I have no problem leaving war-time wrecks undisturbed as memorials to the deceased crew members.

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Response to djg21 (Reply #10)

Wed May 11, 2016, 11:53 AM

13. The depth and location are all State Secrets of Columbia.

 

The only issue remaining is who gets what. The investors say they should get their 50% (which they had rejected earlier), Columbia say they investors can get 50% of any treasure found in the location the investors claimed the wreck to be, but NOT outside that area. The Ship is NOT in the location claimed by the investors, the investors claim the wreck has moved AND they right is to a broad area not just the area they said the wreck was at. Columbia is saying, you said the wreck was at point X, and it is NOT at point X, but point Z. The previous ruling ONLY protected your rights to point X NOT the areas around point X.

The location would indicate the depth (this area has been charted for centuries, and Sonar records for decades, Radar and Laser measured over the last 50 years, mostly do to Cold War efforts to pinpoint possible locations of Soviet submarines, such efforts were NOT geared to locating wrecks but things a sub could hide behind from Sonar).

Spain's claim is based it was a Warship in International waters, Columbia's claim is it is in Columbia's territorial waters. Under the three mile rule, there is a lot of "International Waters" in the Caribbean, less but significant international waters exist under the 12 mile rule, but none under the 200 mile rule (The US and Cuba are within 400 miles of each other, so their claim is NOT 200 miles but the half way point between the two nations, one of the chief reason for reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba is to define that border for that is one of the areas in the world where known oil reserves exist). Thus you have a legal dispute between Spain and Columbia if this wreck is beyond the 12 mile limit (No dispute if the wreck is within the 3 mile limit). Between 3 and 12 mile limits Spain will claim its rights under the 3 mile limit when this ship became a wreck, Columbia will claim it is the property of Columbia for it is within the 12 mile limit of today.

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Response to djg21 (Reply #10)

Wed May 11, 2016, 12:07 PM

14. Maybe djg21..............

as a avid coin collector and from what I have read about treasure hunting in the seas, Locating the spot is by far the most difficult rather than excavating it. You would be surprised how far down these little outfits can go, And now knowing the amount is mind boggling. Those lat and long and depth numbers are being hidden better then the nuclear codes.

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