PANAMA - The National Institute of Culture (INAC) has decided not to extend its contract with Marine Research del Istmo SA, for the recovery of treasures from the galleon San Jose, which sank in the archipelago of Las Perlas in the seventeenth century.
The contract between the Government and the commercial firm Marine Research was signed in 2003 and expired on August 28, 2015, although one of its clauses establishing an extension to continue the recovery of treasures.
However, INAC officials reported anomalies that led to the end of the marina concession were detected. In fact, the agency has withheld hundreds of coins that were confiscated from one of the company representatives.
The managing director of INAC, Juan Francisco Guerrero said they have all the information they need to manage this legal issue. "It will act in the law accordingly," he said.
Guerrero made reference to the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), whose function is to ensure the preservation of underwater heritage and fight against commercial exploitation and the pillage of wrecks.
Panama was the first country to sign this convention on protecting underwater heritage in 2001 and ratified it on 20 May 2003. However, that same year the Government granted the concession for the salvage of the galleon San Jose.
Guerrero said that the sinking of the vessel was registered in Panamanian waters and is part of the history of the isthmus. "This is the heritage, because everything is related to an important historic event," he said.
For the historian Escarreola Rommel, the authorities took the right decision, to cancel any agreement to give this heritage award as it comes from Latin currency.
According Escarreola, you must save this treasure in a museum to ensure safekeeping and appreciation by domestic and tourists.
INAC also recommended conducting an investigation to determine how much more treasure was transported in the galleon.
The San José is a boat built in 1611, which left the port of Callao, Peru, bound for Panama, with a large shipment of gold and silver on board. The galleon sank June 17, 1631 after brushing with a shoal.
Recently, representatives of UNESCO met with Panamanian authorities to address this issue. During the meeting it was agreed to be made this year a field inspection to the site, in order to assess, in cooperation with Panamanian experts, the actions taken by the company during the work of identification, extraction and marketing of objects from the galleon.
This team will also propose a management plan for the conservation of San Jose and property from foundering.
On this issue, the Embassy of Spain in Panama stated that the European country is of "satisfaction" that the contract has not been extended on the commercial exploitation of the galleon, and that means that Panama puts his underwater at the service of history and scientific heritage.
"The galleon San Jose is part of the shared history between Spain and Panama. Spain wants the objects found on the wreck to stay in Panama for Panamanians and the worldwide to enjoy, "the embassy said in a note.
Finally, the embassy stated that the two countries signed the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, and share concerns and points of view on this issue. He even said that they have discussed ways to establish mutual cooperation for the conservation of cultural heritage of the galleon.
Company spokespeople said they have complied with all regulations and have a legal team evaluating the matter.
Courtesy: La Prensa
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