Álber Vázquez raises the thesis that the Spanish ship San Telmo arrived first at the frozen continent in the book Muerte en el Hielo.
In September 1819, San Telmo, a Spanish ship with 644 men on board, ran aground on an island far south of Cape Horn in a place no one had ever trod on before. Months later, an English ship found the wreck and remains of a camp without men. After communicating it to the authorities of their country, they decided to bury this finding in order to adjudge, undeservedly, the discovery of the frozen continent.
Álber Vázquez (Rentería, 1969) recovers in the novel Death in the Ice (Sphere of books) the epic of those 644 Spaniards and claims that Spain, before anyone else, arrived in Antarctica.
It has always been believed that the discoverer of Antarctica was the British captain William Smith, who landed in the South Shetland Islands on October 16, 1819. Three months after setting foot on land and one of the expeditions of exploration he undertook, Smith, a man of sea and honour, discovered clear traces of the recent shipwreck of a ship that he had no difficulty in identifying as Spanish. Not only did he see the stranded wreck with his own eyes, but he also noticed numerous signs that at least part of the crew had survived on dry land. When returning to his base in Valparaiso, Captain Smith wanted to admit that he had not been the first to tread on that land, the British authorities ordered him to remain silent and, thus, claimed that vast territory for his king.
“We need,” the author states, “the proof so that the discovery of Antarctica is attributed to Spain, as it should, and not to England.” And why is there no proof? Because the test, that is, the testimony, is In the hands of England, it would be enough if they said ‘yes, we saw it, the San Telmo was there, beached’, so that history would turn upside down and the San Telmo crew would receive the recognition it deserves. ”
The stranded ship was the San Telmo, a Spanish ship of seventy-four guns and a crew of 644 men. He had deviated from his route on September 2, 1819, due to a storm at Cape Horn and, after being swept away by the winds and currents, had run aground on Cape Shirreff, on the north coast of Livingston Island.
Since 1993, a plaque commemorates, at Cape Shirreff, the San Telmo epic. “In memory of the crew of the Spanish ship San Telmo shipwrecked in September 1819. The first to reach these shores,” he says. “The arrival of the crew from San Telmo to Antarctica before anyone else, there is no doubt, the Spanish Antarctic base is not located on the island of Livingston by chance and it is not by chance that, in the place where it is believed that the shipwreck, a commemorative plaque will be installed, “says the author.