January 24, 2013
By Laura Garcia
It almost sounds like group therapy. While the invite speaks of a lobbying strategy that has nothing to do with emotional disturbance. One month before the hearing that will decide the fate of Argentina in its battle with the holdouts, a group of retirees that didn’t participate in the debt swaps will meet on Tuesday the 29th of January in a New York hotel to give a conference that carries the most eloquent title of “Savings of a lifetime evaporated by broken promises of a government.” It could sound sentimental. But it’s clear that by measure of its proximity to the case, the interested groups are ready to carry the pressure game to a new level.
It will be at 10:30am at The Warwick Hotel. And Robert Raben, sponsor of the event and executive director of the group American Task Force Argentina, will be in charge of presenting the 15 retired bondholders that, according to the release, “are anxious to share their experiences of adversity and sacrifice.” But they are not the obfuscating Italian pensioners who will demand what is owed to them and will argue for an adverse ruling against Argentina, pro-vulture. Fourteen are in fact Argentina and one is Uruguayan.
“The 2001 default harmed some 500,000 individual bondholders, including thousands of Argentines. Since then, many have died or succumbed to pressure to accept the offers of 2005 or 2010. But others resisted. And now they have the chance to tell their story,” one of the people with ties to the event told this newspaper.
The statement in which the invitation was sent makes the spirit of the meeting clear. They will speak before the presentation of oral arguments at the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the paradigmatic case of NML v. Argentina on February 27. The result will affect tens of thousands of people, mostly elderly, from Argentina, Europe and the United States, who lost their money in Argentine bonds when the government declared the default.
Now the future of their bonds is in the hands of the New York court, which will decide if Argentina must comply with its obligations or not.
The individual bondholders, in fact, also were accepted in the case and will make their presentation as “friends” of the plaintiffs, which is, Elliott Management, of magnate Paul Singer.
“It’s a mistake to speak of vulture funds and confuse people. In fact, most of the bondholders from the swap could be categorized as vulture funds by the case. My clients, who are holdouts, are normal people to whom it seemed the swap didn’t offer compensation and they preferred to wait,” said Anthony Costantini, attorney for the firm Duane Morris, who represents individual holdouts, in a clarification made to this newspaper months ago.
Next week, the holdout pensioners will have their chance to vent. And they will be charged to do it publicly. They are not vultures. But they also want to collect.