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A European Association A of Archaeologists Public Letter of the Executive Board of the EAA to the Government of Colombia Sefior ivan Duque Marquez Republica de Colombia 17 October 2019 Dear Mr resident, The European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) is aware of complex situation that has arisen regarding the shipwreck of the Galleon San José located in the territorial waters of Colombia. EAR, regards the underwater cultural heritage as primarily public asset of highest cultural importance. Since the value of cultural goods cannot be primarily determined by the market, we feel that any action related to such sites or objects which is predominantly driven by economic interests puts the Integrity ofthese cultural goods at serious risk. The Galleon San José is without any doubt cultural heritage ofthe highest value. It should therefore be treated accordingly and with utmost care, The research process should be oriented more to exploration, understanding and knowledge than extraction. The treatment of recovered items should follow careful cultural evaluation and selection for preservation and public presentation. In {2 commercial situation the market value of such objects should never be allowed to surpass their cultural value. The EAA has closely followed the situation and has some concerns related to the public/private arrangement created in this case forthe purposes of recovering the cargo of the Galleon San José. These concerns are predominantly related to treatment of the wreck itself and the treatment of items of cargo following recovery, without established clarity on the issue of rights of ownership Experts in underwater heritage management who were at our session on underwater archaeology ‘at our EAA Annual Meeting in Bern this year share same professional opinion on the matter. Clearly, the Colambian Gavernment sharas same, or all, af these canceens since the planning process was temporarily suspended, due to the legal uncertainty surrounding it For decades, Colombia's cultural heritage policies have been exemplary in Latin America and its strategic location in the Caribbean Sea confers a great international responsiblity related to the correct treatment of the heritage found in its maritime domain. The EAA is fully aware of the extremely negative effects that commercally-driven exploitation of underwater archaeological remains had in other parts of the world that frustrate and cause damage to international affarts to protect the submarine cultural heritage world. wide. ‘Accordingly, the EAA (asthe largest professional association of archaeologists in Europe and one of the largest in the world) now joins the call shared by other academic, scientific professional ‘associations around the world. Together with the World Archaeological Congress, the Society for ‘American Archaeology and UNESCO, as well as national networks such as the Colombian Archaeology Society, the Colombian Archaeologists Association and the University Network of