“Bonistas del Patio” Demand Their Payments, But Don’t Call Them Vultures
SAN JUAN – A recently formed organization calling themselves “Bonistas del Patio” (loosely translated as Backyard Bondholders), consisting of individual citizens who are holders of local bonds, called upon the local government on Wednesday to pay the interests and principal on the debt it owes to local bondholders.
The organization—whose members hold a little more than $14 billion, or about 20%, of the commonwealth’s debt— also took pains to clarify that they should not be confused with “vulture funds” that have of late taken center stage in negotiation discussions with local officials.
“Due to public confusion on this important issue, Backyard Bondholders is engaged with key decision-makers to prevent misguided decisions from disparately penalizing the savings of thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico. Every one of us has worked hard, saved and invested our hard-earned savings in Puerto Rico,” read a statement by the group, which is headed by former Government Development Bank president Jorge Irizarry as its executive director.
“The future of Puerto Rico and the repayment of our savings that were invested in its bonds, is being negotiated in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., without our input. The local bondholders have so far been absent throughout this discussion. Now we will be heard,” said Irizarry.
The group noted that local bondholders are people who have “dedicated their lives to economic development, job creation and boosting Puerto Rico’s economy,” and argued that the money these lent to the government was made on the island and was “continually reinvested in Puerto Rico.” “We are concerned that island residents, as opposed to non-residents, will be taxed to repay all the debt, including ours which, until now, had no representation,” the statement went on.
“Our participation is key to [ensure] justice in the decisions [made] in relation to the fiscal crisis. To decapitalize the local bondholder would be a mortal blow to the local economy of Puerto Rico,” Irizarry added.
The organization has stateside and Puerto Rico advisers and says it continues to grow by actively recruiting local bondholders. The group hired Washington, D.C.-based law firm Williams & Jensen, which will work with a local firm the group says it will soon announce.