A direct descendant of Christopher Columbus is still looking for gold. In a press release from May 10 2012, Petaquilla Minerals, a gold producer in Spain and Portugal announced that Colon de Carvajal joined their company.
Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. is pleased to announce that Don Cristobal Colon de Carvajal has accepted a position on the Company’s Advisory Board effective immediately.
Mr. Colon de Carvajal is a direct descendant of Cristobal Colon, one of the great mariners in history more commonly referred to as Christopher Columbus. Like his ancestor, Mr. Colon de Carvajal holds the titles of Duke of Veragua, a territory located in Panama, Duke de la Vega, Marquis of Jamaica, and Admiral of the Ocean Sea, a title bestowed on the discoverer.
Don Cristobal Colon de Carvajal was formerly an officer, helicopter pilot, and commander of a naval vessel in the Spanish Navy and he holds several awards in Spain and abroad, including a medal bestowed by the Republic of Poland “for sacrifice and courage” following the rescue of Polish sailors after the sinking of their ship. He is recognized for his various activities in different regions of the world and has been honoured with appointments such as Special Mission Ambassador, whereby he has represented Spain at events held in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Following a successful military career, Mr. Colon de Carvajal joined a major Spanish insurance company as Executive Vice President (Executive Vice Chairman), a post he held for 15 years, overseeing matters of insurance, loans and other financings.
In 1993 I made a trip to Potosi, Bolivia in search of history and adventure. Here in this city that was once Spain’s most valued holding. I found a historical character that totally amazed me and at the time wondered why his story had not been told.
The history of Potosi is filled with unbelievable greed, inhuman treatment and death.
The story of how the world’s richest silver deposit was discovered is as magical as the city itself. In about 1450, a servant to a Spanish captain was looking for his llamas and ventured up the 15,827 foot mountain. Caught by the fall of night and at such an extreme altitude freezing to death is only one of your worries. In an effort to prevent the bone-chilling cold from taking his life, he pulled some tuffs of grass, added dried llama dung and set it on fire to keep him warm through the night. When morning came, he was amazed to see a river of silver that had melted in the nigh, now pooled at his feet.
The servant returned to his master and reported the amazing find. From that day forward nothing would be the same for Spain or for the native people of Potosi.
When the mountain that overshadows the city was first put into production, it is said that the entire mountain looked like it was ablaze from all the fires fueled by llama dung, simply melting the silver that was on the surface of the rich mountain (Cerro Rico).
It is said that the first shipment of silver was a pack train of 3100 llamas. Estimating that each llama could carry about forty pounds. Now you can see why in a short time the city grew to over 200,000 people, this making it by far the largest city in the America’s and it rivaled Paris in size, but had none of the comforts of any European capital.
There were no trees and very little vegetation. It also lacked a water supply to run the mines and quench the thirst of the residents. To compensate for this water shortage, thousands of enslaved natives were forced to hand-dig a huge lake above the city and construct an aqueduct, similar to those built by the Romans. A wall was also built to divide those of wealth and prosperity from the working class. When you pass through the gate it completely outlines the Cerro Rico.
In 2007, when the Odyssey Exploration of Tampa found a wrecked colonial ship off west of the Strait of Gibraltar, it was unknown what kind of legal battle would ensue. What the Odyssey found was silver and gold doubloons, worth an estimated value of $500 million, whose ore was mined in Lima; Popayan, Columbia; Santiago, Chile; and Potasi, all located in South America.
Last September a three member US Court ruled that the Nuestra Senora de Las Mercedes, the colonial ship holding the coins, was the property of Spain, since the region the ore was mined at the time of the incident was controlled by Spain. That ruling is highly contested with many Peruvians, and the Odyssey. The Peruvians think that because their ancestor’s hard work, sweat and sacrifice were used to mine the ore that it is property of their country. Their argument is that even though they were not and independent country at the time, they did not gain independence until 1821 and the ship is believed to have sank in 1804, Spain forced the workers to mine and were genocidal towards their people so this should be retribution.
Others wanting a slice of the pie are ancestors of the merchants who had some connection to the ship. They claim Spain forced their ancestors to pay a tax on the silver and gold and never received their cargo; therefore the precious metals are theirs.
While the Odyssey and Peru filed appeals at the US Supreme court, this battle seems like it could drag on for a while. The bitterness and resentment between the two sides is holding the two apart. Some Spanish scholars feel that some of the coins should be displayed in their country of origin, but only as a loan. A lot of the Peruvians with a connection or interest in this matter feel robbed by a country that not only robbed them before, but also ruled them.
Photo from Wikimedia of Francis Sartorius’ Four frigates capturing Spanish treasure ships, 5 October 1804 at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Learn About More Spanish Shipwrecks From the Video Below
A pair of rare Enigma machines used in the Spanish Civil War have been given to the head of GCHQ, Britain’s communications intelligence agency. The machines – only recently discovered in Spain – fill in a missing chapter in the history of British code-breaking, paving the way for crucial successes in World War II.
Read the rest of the story at BBC News – The Spanish link in cracking the Enigma code.
Story by Gordon Corera – BBC News
Spain’s transition in the Seventies from dictatorship to democratic monarchy, though perilous, was extremely well-managed and has so far proved durable. One of the most impressive things about it was a general refusal to dwell on the past.
The country’s first experience of parliamentary democracy had begun in 1931 – 150 years after the US Constitution and a century after our Reform Act – but, thanks to a mixture of internal division and violent extremism on both sides and a military rebellion supported by landowners and the Church, it was short-lived. Civil war was followed by General Franco’s regime, which lasted until his death in 1975.
Read the rest of the review at The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston: review – Telegraph.
Review by Jeremy Treglown – Telegraph
The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain by Paul Preston