The Mexican Congress has debated several hot topics this year. One of those issues is the whereabouts of the lost island of Bermejo. Mexican lawmakers have been seeking this island, but nobody can find it.
So why does this make a difference? It has to do with oil. The U.S. and Mexico are negotiating a new agreement on oil drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico. If Bermejo Island actually exists, that would push Mexico’s territorial waters out farther, giving the country more of the western “Doughnut Hole,” a part of the Gulf believed to contain huge oil reserves.
Bermejo is said to be a low lying island located at 22.3 degrees north latitude and 91.22 degrees west longitude. That is about 100 miles northwest of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
The island has been mentioned in the nautical literature since the 1500s and has appeared on various nautical charts throughout the intervening centuries. It was Spanish territory, and then inherited by Mexico upon its’ independence.
In 1997, a Mexican navy expedition looked for, but did not find, Bermejo. Interest in both houses of the Mexican Congress has been expressed, especially with the bilateral agreement with the United States looming.
There are several explanations afoot to explain the island’s disappearance. One is that Bermejo was sunk by a seaquake or some kind of tectonic shift in the ocean floor. Then there’s the Al Gore explanation – it was sunk by global warming. A conspiracy theory advanced by others is that the island was intentionally blown up by the CIA, so the United States could drill more oil.
Another explanation is that the island simply never existed, that somebody mistook something else for an island back in the 1500s, and the maps just kept copying and recopying Bermejo Island through the centuries. That’s called a “phantom island” and it’s happened before.
The official version of the Mexican government is that the island sunk naturally due to climactic and tectonic factors. Naturally, this provides grist to the mill of the CIA conspiracy theory, that the Mexican government is in cahoots with the U.S. government.
Some in Mexico’s Congress (from both the right and the left) have called Mexican President Calderon to account for the lost island. One statement from certain senators implied that the island had been deliberately sunk: “a force of nature (able to sink an island) does not take place without anyone noticing and much less so when it is sitting in an area with more than 22 billion barrels of oil reserves.”
British maps, interestingly enough, have reported the sinking of the island since way back in 1844.
In 2009, at the behest of the Maritime Committee in the Mexican House of Representatives, an extensive search for the island was carried out by the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico).This expedition went to Bermejo’s supposed location, and searched by sea and air. Over 10,488 square kilometers were searched. Under the sea, soundings went down 1500 feet. The result – nothing. They just didn’t find Bermejo Island where it was supposed to be located.
Some mysterious things have been happening in the Gulf of Mexico: missing ships, missing planes and now a missing island. Could it be that Mexico has its own Bermuda Triangle?