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What is happening to la Vizcaina? Columbus'ship of the 4th Voyage

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Columbus’s Bell Rings a Million: What is happening to la Vizcaina?

By Warren White

Not until an old rotted out bell, with a gaping hole, shows a potential for bringing 1.7 million dollars at a Madrid auction house does the Spanish government take an interest in it. Why is it any different now, the money? What happens now? The ownership will be contested in every court of two lands, no doubt.

The bell in question, from all indication, is the bell that Christopher Columbus may have very well rang out to herald, “Land Hoe,” October 12, 1492 in discovery of the New World. The spark that kindled the interest by Spanish and Portuguese authorities did not take hold; it seems, until the potential for the sale of the bell bringing so much too so few. Since the discovery of the bell in 1994 on a sunken Spanish galleon, San Salvador, which sank in 1555 off the coast of Portugal; there hasn’t been any government that had taken any interest or so it seems, till now.

Robert Mazzara found the artifact over eight years ago. It would seem that precedence had already been set for claim, why now? What alternative recourse does the finder have? Courts, a great amount of expense, and a lot of time will now be devoted by the finder as big government tries to steam-roll the finder in an attempt to take over his claim. Claim jumping is illegal as long as you can find a fair and unbiased court to hear the claims. These governments will spout words like, “For the good all,” or “It was ours in the first place.” Is this the pretext for confiscation?

Italy should claim all Roman ships of antiquity because the City of Rome is in that country. For that matter extend Italian rights to all ships from any country that now occupies space that was once Rome’s.

Lebanon perhaps should make a claim to any Phoenician ship found prior the destruction of Carthage. This is ridiculous of course but why not?

While Spain attempts to make claim to all ships lost in antiquity why not then let Spain assume the liability for them as well. What liability, they would no doubt ask? In Dominican Republic, Samana Bay in 1724 the N. S. de Tolosa and N. S. de Guadalupe sank there with a cargo hold loaded with an ample supply of mercury. Cartagena harbor has been found high in the same toxic metal and it has been determined to be due to Spanish ships of the colonial era being the culprit.

Courts do work in both directions, at least they are supposing to. Perhaps this would be a great time to render these topics to a world court that would have the interest of all and would truly be unbiased. In all fairness, there should be an international court to protect all citizens and their rights, not only in matters of crime against humanity, but civil matters as well where the costs should be born by the initiating party. In this case after eight years; the governments of Portugal and Spain should bear the brunt of all legal costs now that a value (or at least a tentative value) has been established for what they are so eager to claim.

No person can prove or disprove this is the famous bell from the flag ship Santa Maria. Research does, though, indicate that it is. It is to the degree that people are possibly willing to pay as much as 1.7 million dollars for it while in other parts of the world governments tie up other finds so that they waste away and are lost to humanity entirely.

Panama has a find of an ancient shipwreck thought to be “la Vizcaina”, a ship that was involved with Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage of exploration. The site has been visited by outstanding marine archeologists like Dr. Donald Keith, underwater archaeologist affiliated with “Ships of Discovery,” and with and Dr. Smith representing Florida State University: these scientists state they have their doubts that this wreck is “la Vizcaina.” When pressed to certify that this is not this famous ship; they fail to do that either; saying that there isn’t enough conclusive evidence one way or the other.

There is a place when logic will have to enter the picture and the wreck in Panama will no doubt be dubbed la Vizcaina.” This all important artifact lays unprotected. While there are individuals, interested in seeking out and moving foundations, scientists and other necessary individuals to come to Panama to undertake this all important task. Nothing can be done without permits from the Panamanian government so this project may get started.

Is there a better time, this is the 500th year since the ship was abandoned as well a Panama’s Centenario (100 year) celebration. Panama is also the location chosen for the Miss Universe pageant for 2003. It will be such a shame if Panama fails to act in this year.

This ancient shipwreck could be a tremendous impetus to tourism for Panama with visitors to the wreck site as well as an established museum to visit the recovered artifacts.”

“Just think about sailing this ship through the Panama Canal on a barge safely held in a cradle. Wouldn’t it be great? Columbus would have finally found his passage between two oceans.

Contact: Warren A. White

Telephone: 507-433-0349---cell-507-433-0349--Colon, Panama


Warren White, known world wide as the finder of la Vizcaina, extensive articles are available on the WWW under the search, “Warren White Vizcaina.”

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