Government Expected Contentious Debate Over Rights To Loot
(Oct. 5, 2005) A new twist in the story of buried treasure on Robinson Crusoe Island that has kept Chile and the world in suspense for the last three weeks surfaced Monday after Wagner Technologies renounced all claims to the treasure supposedly worth US$10 billion.
Wagner Technologies, the company who claims they discovered the treasure, met late Monday with government officials in Valparaíso in what was expected to be a contentious debate over the rights to the treasure.
According to Fernando Uribe-Etxeverría, lawyer for Wagner Technologies, the company does not believe it is capable of excavating the treasure; all the company wanted was the free press.
This abrupt turn of events surprised government officials who were prepared to discuss excavation permits and decide how to partition the treasure with the company. Wagner instead agreed to turn over the coordinates to the government on the condition that if the treasure is excavated, a portion would be given to a number of Chilean charities, as well as the island’s residents.
Uribe-Etxeverría’s announcement also surprised journalists because of the commotion the company generated with threats to withhold the location of the treasure unless the government agreed to give them a cut of the loot (ST, Oct. 3).
Wagner still maintains that “Arturito,” a mobile robot designed by one of their engineers, detected the presence of 800 metric tons of gold and jewels on the west side of Robinson Crusoe Island in southern Chile. Wagner claims that the treasure is located in a very difficult-to-reach spot that requires divers to enter through sub-marine caves on the island’s coast.
Wagner representatives said the company is withdrawing from the controversy that surrounded their claims because of the difficulty involved in removing the treasure.
“There is no company in the country capable of excavating this treasure,” said Uribe-Etxeverría. “For this, you will need something bigger: the State.” He also added that for Wagner, the treasure did not represent a business opportunity. Instead, the company’s exploration was meant to publicize the extraordinary capabilities of their robot.
Arturito operates like a robotic bloodhound. He is programmed to search for a particular substance, water, gold, even DNA. Using a variety of tools from geo-radar to a “gamma-camera,” capable of differentiating between atomic molecules, he searches a specified area for the presence the programmed substance. According to Manuel Salinas, designer of the robot, with the right sample, Arturito could help police find missing persons, wanted criminals, water in the desert; if it is there, he can find it.
Debates have also surfaced in Chile over what treasure is actually buried on the island.
Robinson Crusoe Island is located along the Spanish colonial navigation route that connected Spain’s Latin American colonies with Europe. In this time period Spain was mining vast amounts of silver and gold from the Andean nations of Peru and Bolivia for transport to Europe. These ships were a favorite of pirates operating in the South Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
One popular legend holds that the Spanish navigator Juan Esteban Ubilla y Echeverría, in charge of transporting the treasure back to Spain, landed on the island in 1715 and interred it instead. Sometime afterwards, an English pirate named Cornelius Webb unearthed the treasure and reburied it somewhere else.
Another legend claims that the treasure was stolen from the Aztec Empire in Mexico by Spanish conquistadores. Yet a third theory holds that it was the bounty taken off the Spanish Galleon “Nuestra Señora del Monte Carmelo” in 1741 by the English Lord George Anson.
The island first became famous for hosting the real-life character of Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe,” Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailing master marooned on the island between 1704 and 1709. Selkirk was pirating the Spanish off the coast of South America in the early 1700s when his ship was badly damaged by a series of fights with the Spanish armada.
Fearing that the ship would soon sink, he asked the captain to set him ashore at the next port and ended up stranded off the coast of Chile on an uninhabited island in the Juan Fernandez archipelago. Selkirk was later picked up by English privateers and continued pirating Spanish fleets until 1712 when he finally made his triumphant return to Scotland, a very rich man.
SOURCE: PUBLIMETRO, LA NACIÓN