Colombia has denied the existence of an agreement with Spain to extract the holy grail of treasures from a Spanish galleon , sunk over three centuries ago near Cartagena with one of the greatest treasures in history, estimated at over $4 billion
The Spanish galleon San Jose blew up on June 7, 1708, as it was about to be boarded by British sailors during a battle known as Wager’s Action” [Battle of Baru] involving a treasure convoy that had sailed from Portobelo. during the War of Spanish Succession.
Only 11 of the vessel’s 600 crew and passengers survived and its cargo of 7-11 million gold pesos and gems has remained a dream for treasurer hunters for over 300 years.
Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, responsible for the raising of the vessel claimed by Spain, told journalists in Bogota: “One thing is the provision and another thing is the extraction, and, in the use that is given to this cultural heritage, There is no agreement with anyone.”
The announcement came after, statements quoted by the Spanish newspaper ABC, that the Spanish chancellor, Josep Borrell, said that both countries had reached a “principle of agreement” to jointly extract the treasure.
According to Borrell, it was agreed, Colombia would not resume the search for a public-private partnership to rescue the wealth, suspended since August in response to private demands.
“We propose a consortium between Colombia and Spain so that our scientists can do it together,” the foreign minister said, according to ABC.
The vice president said that Spain has only indicated to Colombia its “interest” to participate in the project.
“Once we know that proposal, we will consider it as one of the elements of a judgment for the decision that is finally made,” she said, , adding that Colombia considers the riches of the ship as part of its cultural heritage.
“The issue of the galleon has … has a character of indivisibility that for us is absolutely fundamental,” she said.
Ramírez said that the raising of the galleon is still suspended at the request of the Ministry of Culture, which in August initially postponed it for two months.
The operation would require financing of about $70 million according to former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos (2010-18).
The location of the wreck had been searched for decades by treasure hunters.
To avoid disputes with individuals, Colombia enacted a law in 2013, which created t conditions for the search and established that all submerged cultural heritage is owned by the nation.
Madrid has claimed the cargo as part of its heritage because the ship, found in 2015, was from the Spanish Navy.