• Bolivian Indigenous groups claim to treasure of San Jose

    The treasure of the San Jose

    From The Guardian

    Indigenous communities in Bolivia have objected to Colombia’s plans to recover the remains of an 18th-century galleon believed to be carrying gold, silver and emeralds worth billions, calling on Spain and Unesco to step in and halt the project.

    Colombia hopes to begin recovering artefacts from the wreck of the San José in the coming months but the Caranga, Chicha and Killaka peoples in Bolivia propose that the galleon and its contents should be considered “common and shared patrimony”.

    A substantial part of the treasure onboard the San José is believed to have been mined by the forced labour of Indigenous peoples in Bolivia, so Colombia’s plans to lift the remains without consulting their descendants would violate international law, the communities said in a letter to Unesco this week.

    “Not having our consent, our participation and without taking into account how it will impact the present and future of our communities is irresponsible and contrary to justice,” they wrote.

    “We do not have the right to forget, and nor do Spain or any of the American republics … have the right to erase or change our memory.”

    The San José was carrying an immense bounty of gold, silver and emeralds from Latin America back to Spain in 1708 when it was sunk by a British fleet off the coast of Cartagena.

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