The Ministry of Culture in Spain has recently made a public announcement stating that they plan to approach any actions taken by the Colombian government regarding the San José galleon with a spirit of cooperation and willingness to work together. This significant declaration was made in response to inquiries about whether the Spanish government had any plans to raise concerns or file complaints with the Colombian authorities.
The Colombian government had previously confirmed that they will be conducting their first extraction of materials from the ship, which sank in Colombian waters in the 18th century, between April and May 2024. The Spanish Ministry of Culture has emphasized that this situation, like any other matter related to the cultural ties between Spain and Colombia, will be handled with a clear intent to cooperate.
The sources also reminded that Urtasun had a meeting with his Colombian counterpart Juan David Correa at the end of 2023. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the collaboration in cultural ties between the two institutions. However, according to the Colombian Government’s sources, during that meeting, unresolved issues in the sector between the two countries, such as the Galeón San José, were not discussed.
Up until now, Spain’s stance on the matter has been that the Spanish Galleon, which tragically sank in 1708 during a naval battle with 600 sailors on board, is considered an underwater grave and should not be exploited for profit. This position is based on the belief that the ship and its remains should be respected and left undisturbed.
However, in November last year, the Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, made a surprising announcement. He revealed plans to attempt to recover the treasure believed to be still aboard the sunken galleon – a staggering 20,000 million gold coins – before the year 2026.
The Colombian Government has now provided more detailed plans, stating that they intend to start the exploration and extraction of pieces from the San José Galleon in the months of March, April, and May. This information was shared by the Colombian Minister of Culture, Juan David Correa, according to reports from the Colombian media outlet, ‘La República’.
Just last week, ‘El tiempo’, another Colombian media, reported that the Vice Minister of Culture of Colombia, Adriana Molano, visited the units of the National Navy in Cartagena de Indias. The purpose of this visit was to review the details of the extraction process and to ensure everything is in order.
As ‘El tiempo’ reports, “The first thing we have to do is finish knowing what is under water. The second is to know what the behavior of these pieces will be like, which have been 600 meters deep for so many years. We want to do research and surely a museum so that all citizens can know what was in the Galleon.”