TREASURE TROVE: Colombian official denies making agreement with Spain on San Jose shipwreck

OFFICIALS with the Colombian government have denied striking a deal with their Spanish counterparts covering the shipwreck of a galleon off the South American country’s coast.
Marta Lucia Ramirez, Colombia’s Vice President, said no deal had been reached on the San Jose galleon which lies in shipwrecked in the Caribbean near Cartagena.
Ramirez’s denial comes as Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the two countries had reached an agreement in principle on the salvaging of the wreck.
Spain and Colombia have been at loggerheads over who has the right to salvage the wreck since its discovery in 2015. The San Jose wreck is said to contain hundreds of millions of euros worth of gold and treasure.
Ramirez said there was still no agreement on the ship but added it expected to receive a proposal from the Spanish government on the ship in the near future.
“There is absolutely no agreement with anyone. But we are ready to work hand in hand with the Spanish,” Ramirez said.
Borrell said last week that he had spoken with Colombian officials at the Ibero-American summit held in Guatemala held last month that an agreement had been reached.
He claimed both sides had agreed not to hire a private archaeology firm to undertake the salvaging out of respect for the dead. Borrell said the Spanish and Colombians had agreed to use a Spanish submarine to survey the wreck.
The San Jose galleon was a 64-gun, three-mast vessel that was launched in 1698 and served with the Spanish navy.
A British ship fired on the San Jose during the Battle of Baru in 1708, causing its gunpowder stores to explode which sunk the ship. All but 11 of the 600-strong crew died.
The Spanish claim they have the right to the wreck because it belonged to their navy while the Colombians claim they do as it lies in their waters.

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Joe Gerrard

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