Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, December 11, 2015



Nothing gets readers of the DUNER BLOG more excited than a buried treasure. So...when a 300 year old Spanish galleon still laden with billions of dollars worth of gold, silver, gems and jewelry was discovered off the Colombian coast....our inbox was jam packed. Let's get started!

Who discovered the ship? Jim, Toronto.
Believe it or not, it seems the Royal Galleon de San Jose was discovered by the president of Colombia, Juan Miguel Santos. "We have found the San Jose galleon!" the proud politician tweeted. While it's hard to believe the 64-year-old diplomat donning scuba gear, the actual facts on exactly who deserves credit are unclear. In fact, a Colombian government spokesman refused to state even the precise location. Only that is was "off the coast from Cartagena."

Why was so much loot on one ship? Julius, Nairobi. 
When Commodore Charles Wagner sank the San Juan in June of 1708, Europe was engulfed in the most complex conflict ever: The War of Spanish Succession. Desperate to crush Louis XIV, English warships relentlessly sacked all warships loyal to him and ally Philip of Anjou. Unfortunately, storming flagship galleons is always hit and miss. This time, the booty sank into a treacherous coral reef. Only 11 of the 600 sailors on board survived.

Does the treasure belong to Spain or Colombia? Karin, Essen.
Finance Minister José Manuel García-Margallo issued a clear statement on Monday, declaring the San Jose galleon to be Spanish property. He cited a UN Convention that stipulated: "ownership belongs to the state where the ship was flagged." The San Jose flew the flag of Castille. Meanwhile, the Colombian government is making plans to construct a museum in the booming tourist destination of Cartagena to display the wares. Currently, representatives from both nations are in negotiations. We here at the DUNER BLOG predict a lengthy legal battle.

What's the deal with the US firm? Candace, Miami.
It's hard to believe something as enormous as a Royal Flagship Galleon could remain unnoticed for three centuries. So we do give big credence to the claims from the sea salvage company Sea Search Armada (SSA). They first found the wreck in 1981 as part of the organized search of all possible shorelines where shipwrecks can be found. They negotiated with Bogota: If the remains are ever excavated, SSA would receive 35% of the profit. Unfortunately, the 1980's meant that Cocaine Chaos would engulf Colombia. A new government took control and nullified all claims of the previous regime.

Doesn't this treasure belong to EVERYONE? Dimitry, Omsk
That's exactly how the UN feels, Dimitry! A spokesperson clearly explained that the 'remains of the San Jose fall under the definition of an Underwater Cultural Heritage Site." The body would love to see the whole world take part in what president Santos feels is "the greatest and biggest discoveries of submerged patrimony of all time." He's not exaggerating. Records from Spain show that this one ship might have been laden with the most money of any ship EVER!!!

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