What is the purpose of government? In America it is supposedly to protect the rights of its citizens. Well, tell that to our fellow citizens at Odyssey Marine Exploration, an American company. According to a New York Times article, in 2007 Odyssey recovered an estimated $500 million in gold and silver coins from a Spanish galleon which sank centuries ago off the coast of Portugal. Spain and Odyssey are now in a legal battle over the rights to this shipwreck treasure.
How is our government aiding an American company, Odyssey, in its court battle with a foreign country? Uncle Sam is not aiding; he’s not even playing neutral.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and the Justice Department have weighed in supporting Spain’s claim.
The article contends that information recently released by Wikileaks claims that the U.S. government has been attempting, behind closed doors, to use the Odyssey booty in exchange for Spain facilitating the return to an American family of a $20M painting illegally taken by the Nazis in WWII. The painting is currently in a Spanish museum.
What if our government instead told Spain “finders keepers”; it’s Odyssey’s gold? If Spain does not agree, then it is free to sell its mopeds, leather goods,wines, olives and other exports somewhere other than in the U.S.
Instead, as a U.S. Congressman from Florida said, “These actions suggest that the U.S. government is ceding its sovereignty to foreign governments.” And finally, all valuables (no matter who possesses them today) which were stolen by the Nazis should be immediately returned to the rightful owners and/or heirs. Our government should not use stolen art as a bargaining chip period. To do so gives credence to Spain’s contention that it has some right to the painting.