The US returns to Spain a 16th century book that was found in a “suspicious box”

The US returns to Spain a 16th century book that was found in a “suspicious box”
The US returns to Spain a 16th century book that was found in a “suspicious box”

Washington, May 22 (EFE).- The United States repatriated to Spain this Wednesday a 16th century mathematical treatise that was intercepted almost three years ago in a “suspicious box” along with other copies in a customs facility in New York, authorities reported. of the two countries.

The copy, titled “Brief Summary of the Practice of Arithmetics” and published in 1515 in Valencia by the clergyman Juan Andrés, is part of the Spanish Bibliographic Heritage and was being exported to the United States without the license that allows it to leave Spain.

The return ceremony took place at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Washington, Ángeles Moreno Bau, who highlighted that the repatriation “exemplifies the excellent cooperation” between both nations to safeguard cultural heritage and combat its illegal trafficking.

“Today the symbolism matters more than the real value of the book. We are happy to welcome this great moment of cooperation,” said Moreno Bau, the first woman to head the Spanish embassy in Washington.

At the same ceremony, Katrina W. Berger, executive director of the investigation unit of the Department of Homeland Security (HSI), explained that the work to recover the book began in November 2021 when US agents detected a Suspicious shipment of historical books to the United States.

Upon physically inspecting the package of books in New York, U.S. agents realized that two volumes, including the one repatriated today, “looked suspicious” and did not have an export license, Berger said.

One of the factors that generated suspicion was that the box of books, coming from South America, was destined for a private home in New York, something very unusual for copies of such historical importance, Ricardo Mayoral, from the international division of HSI, told EFE. .

“The way he left Spain was suspicious, how he arrived in South America, how he arrived in the United States, everything was suspicious. Nothing was done through proper channels,” Mayoral stressed.

Once the volume was detected, the necessary checks were initiated to verify that it was part of the Spanish Bibliographic Heritage and contacts were established between the police forces of both countries to proceed with its repatriation.

The return culminated in today’s ceremony, the third since 2013. The United States also repatriated in 2018 a letter written by Christopher Columbus that had been stolen from the National Library of Catalonia in Barcelona, ​​and in 2022 two books by Sor Juana Inés de la Cross. EFE

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