Peruvians feel robbed over Spain getting treasure

LIMA (AP).- We were robbed! That’s how many Peruvians feel, now that U.S. courts have given Spain the 17 tons of silver and gold coins that a private company salvaged from the wreck of a colonial-era Spanish sailing ship. The treasure’s origin is not in dispute. The metals were mined and the coins minted in the Andes. The Spanish navy frigate that was carrying them to Spain exploded during an attack by British warships in 1804. Peru argued it should get the precious metal recovered from the Nuestra Senora de Las Mercedes. But its legal case was sunk in large part by a historical fact: This country was, at the time, a Spanish dependency. It didn’t gain independence until 1821, the last bastion of Spanish rule in South America. “It is uncontested that the Mercedes is the property of Spain,” a three-judge U.S. appeals court ruled in September. Many Peruvians, however,