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Thursday, June 4, 2009

$500M shipwreck treasure ordered back to Spain

"TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Florida deep-sea explorers who raised an estimated $500 million treasure from the 200-year-old wreck of a Spanish galleon should give all the loot back to Spain, a federal magistrate judge said." Here's the problem I have with that kind of thinking...

The Spanish Naval galleon, Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas sunk in the Atlantic Ocean under unspecified circumstances in 1804. If Spain was that concerned about the loss of the ship's cargo, where was their due diligence for recovery during the last 205 years? At the very most, I would award the Spanish government the actual value of the cargo at the time of loss, and then invoke the universal law of "Finders Keepers".

Spain apparently did nothing to recover the bounty of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas, but instead, chose to wait until it was discovered and recovered after a great expenditure of time, effort and money, by somebody else!

The two-year tug-of-war over the 17 tons of silver coins and other artifacts from what is believed to be the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas is likely far from over. Odyssey Marine Exploration created an international stir when it announced in May 2007 that the 500,000 silver coins and other artifacts had been raised from an Atlantic Ocean wreck and flown back to Tampa. Spain then went to U.S. District Court claiming ownership of the treasure if it is in any way connected to the country's national heritage. Odyssey said it will oppose Wednesday's written recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo, which will be considered by another federal judge who will issue an order later.

There is neither logic nor equity to this ruling. Rewarding 205 years of indolence and indifference by the Spanish government, versus the initiative and efforts of a publicly held corporation is obviously international politics in action. There is no justice in such a decision.

If Spain is only concerned about the treasure's connection "to the country's national heritage", let them purchase it from Odyssey at today's market value. Then Spain would have this critical link to their "national heritage" - which is apparently priceless to them - and Odyssey would be fully compensated. Or, as an alternative, Odyssey could gift Spain with one coin of each denomination, and perhaps one cluster known as "pieces of eight", and there is their "national heritage" from history.

But, as anybody with any intelligence can see, the true motivation for Spain's attempt to involve our courts in legally pirating this treasure trove from Odyssey is GREED! Odyssey did not sink the ship... nor is Odyssey responsbile for this treasure lying undisturbed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for over 200 years! Odyssey showed initiative uninvoked by Spain, and for demonstrating this commendable American trait our government court system wishes to punish them? What's wrong with this picture?

I could be completely wrong in the way I see this issue... all I need is for somebody to explain to me the error of my line of reasoning.

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