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Florida Ports Council wants Peru to pay up

Wheeler asked Pompeo to help ensure a “swift, amicable resolution.”

The Florida Ports Council this week joined a chorus of business groups, worker unions and lawmakers calling for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take action on the Peruvian bond default.

Dozens of pension portfolios across the country have sizable investments in Peruvian land bonds. The investments date back to the 1970s, when U.S. investors got land bonds as compensation after the communist government expropriated millions of acres of land.

The bonds are now worth an estimated $42.4 billion, but due unrelated economic woes within the South American country it has quit making payments, putting more than 200 pensions across 27 states in jeopardy.

The Peruvian government has thus far avoided the payments due to a forged ruling from its high court and an ensuing administrative decree from the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Finance which purports to offer bondholders compensation but in reality has a near-zero yield.

Pensions for Florida port workers are among the affected, prompting the letter from Florida Ports Council President Doug Wheeler.

“A failure by the Republic of Peru to make good on the debts they owe these U.S. investors will negatively impact pension plans that provide security for American workers and retirees,” Wheeler wrote in a May 8 letter. “These pension plans help ensure that union members, laborers, and a variety of workers and retirees from all sectors can save and plan for retirement.”

Wheeler closed his letter asking Pompeo to help ensure a “swift, amicable resolution.”

The Florida Ports Council is simply the latest group to demand action on the bond defaults.

Earlier this year, state Sens. Victor Torres and Randolph Bracy penned letters to U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott asking them to bring the issue to the State Department’s attention and to apply trade pressure to force Peru to pay what it owes.

The Congressional delegation has also taken notice, with U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings leading the charge.

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Wheeler’s letter is below.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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