US teachers march on the Capitol for a solution on unpaid Argentine bonds


March 12, 2008

WED 03/12/08 17:59 | American Task Force Argentina, the group of bondholders in the United States that didn't enter the debt swap, organized a teachers' demonstration today, whose pension funds had been invested in Argentina before 2001 and ended up with bonds in default. The protest was on Capitol Hill and they held an information session in the U.S. Congress.
ATFA brought a number of educators from all over the country to speak to members of Congress around on the non-compliance of payment by Argentina on its obligations to holders of Argentine bonds, since the default in 2001.
AFTA complains that Argentina still owes Americans more than US$3 billion, and that teachers and educators run the risk of losing more than US$10 billion in retirement savings, they argue.
In addition to the information briefing in the Congress and meetings with members of Congress, ATFA published an ad in Roll Call newspaper in which it asks Congress: "Don't let Argentina's deadbeat economics wipe out the retirements of hard-working Americans, like our teachers."
"The world of international finance may seem distant, but it affects our life in this country every day," said Robert Shapiro, co-president of ATFA and former economic advisor to President Bill Clinton.
"The non-compliance on debt on the part of the Argentine government, as with the past repudiation of its debts, has not only hurt our teachers back here in the United States, but also every other developing country that needs international help, as well as the Argentine people," he added.
David G. Tuerck, professor of economics at Suffolk University in Massachusetts, has retirement holdings in TIAA-Cref, a pension fund that lost approximately US$100 million in the Argentine default and was one of the participants in the briefing.
"As a holder in the TIAA-Cref pension fund, I'm pleased to be able to hear first-hand what my members of Congress are doing to protect hard-working Americans like me," Tuerck said.
"I'm disturbed by the indifference shown on the Argentine debt default by the lending agencies like the International Monetary Fund and also by the U.S. government. It's time that the citizens of the United States that have been harmed by this default demand that their government take care of their interests," he said.
"We've spent a lot of time back here in the U.S. not leaving any child behind in our education system," said Professor Hugh Hudson, Executive Secretary of the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors.
"This shouldn't be done to the teachers; we are asking our legislative representatives to do all that they can to increase the pressure on our U.S. government," he said.
"It's been six months since the election of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and we haven't seen her taking a single step towards solving this issue," said ATFA executive director Robert Raben. "The time has come for the Argentine government to act," he concluded.
Made up of an alliance of organizations, ATFA is led by Honorable Robert J. Shapiro, former subsecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs in the Clinton Administration, and by Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, member of the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York from 1997 to 2001. The executive director is Mr. Robert Raben, former Assistant Attorney General during the Clinton Administration.