Americans who hold Peruvian land bonds are ramping up efforts to seek help from President Donald Trump and his administration in collecting payouts that Peru has been slow to pay, but a previous winner of the first-ever “Globalist of the Year” award stands in their way.
Peru is lobbying to become a part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, an international organization that currently has 35 member countries around the world. The OECD’s current secretary-general is Jose Angel Gurria, a former high-ranking Mexican government official who has very publicly bashed President Trump and won the first-ever “Globalist of the Year” award in 2007. The award was given to him by Canadian figures, whom he helped roll American workers alongside when negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Mexico’s behalf.
“There is a public effort to make sure policymakers, including the White House, are aware of Peru’s bad actions on this issue leading up to the April meeting in Peru,” a source familiar with the bondholders’ new effort to force Peru to pay up told Breitbart News.
“More than 500,000 American pensioners across the country, including pensioners in states like Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are being leveraged by Peru’s lack of good faith repayment,” the source told Breitbart News. “The administration has the ability to protect hundreds of thousands of workers across the country by making Peru own up to their debt.”
Forbes magazine contributor Frances Coppola published a preview in early December of the upcoming battle, laying out the landscape of the Peruvian bonds fight.
“The strange case of the Peruvian Land Bonds has been quietly rumbling along in the background for quite a while now. But it is set to become much more exciting,” Coppola wrote. “The Peruvian Land Bonds were issued in the 1960s and 70s to pay for land expropriated in a series of Zimbabwe-style land reform schemes. In the hyperinflation that inevitably followed, the bonds ended up worthless. But in 2001, the Peruvian Constitutional Tribunal (Peru’s equivalent of the Supreme Court) decided that Peru should revalue the bonds to current value and pay them in full. However, so far, the vast majority of bonds have not been paid, and the few that have been settled have been coercively subjected to a massive haircut. The Peruvian government faces multiple lawsuits both at home and abroad over its failure to repay the present value of the bonds in full, which bondholders say amounts to sovereign default.”
The bondholders have hired Frontline Strategies political strategist Eric Beach, who served as the co-chair of the pro-Trump Great America PAC during the 2016 election—a group that spent $26.6 million promoting Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in 2016, helping them on their successful path to the presidency. The campaign’s focus on the White House comes just a month before the Summit of the Americas in Lima, where Peruvian government officials are expected to wine and dine OECD members and leaders in an effort to gain entrance into the elite world government organization.
The plan goes something like this: bondholders intend to put pressure on the OECD, with whatever help they can get from a likely-to-be-sympathetic President Trump and Trump administration, to force the OECD to make Peru pay up or lose the opportunity to join the OECD.
It is unclear whether the chairman of the OECD, former Mexican government official Jose Angel Gurria, stands with making Peru pay up on its obligations or if he will let the South American nation slide past those on its way into the OECD. Gurria’s press representative at the OECD, Carol Guthrie, has not replied to a Breitbart News request for comment or a request for an interview with Gurria on the matter.
Gurria himself has an interesting, and controversial, history on his rise to the head of the 35-nation OECD. In the 1990s, he served as a top Mexican government official first as the secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and then as the secretary of Finance and Public Credit. He was a key negotiator in the NAFTA trade deal between Mexico, Canada, and the United States—a deal that has by all accounts hit Americans, especially in the Rust Belt, hard.
As president, Trump has been pushing for a renegotiation of NAFTA and has threatened to withdraw from the unfair deal altogether if terms much more favorable to the United States cannot be reached. Trump’s tough position on NAFTA has inflamed tensions between the Trump White House and Mexico, and even with Canada.
Gurria has bashed Trump repeatedly. “I am Mexican,” he replied when asked by CNBC about Trump a few days before the 2016 election when Trump crushed Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the electoral college with a landslide 30-and-a-half state victory.
Gurria even predicted a Hillary Clinton victory and expressed hope that a President Hillary would be able to grow the economy.
“I think in one week’s time we will be past this turbulence and this volatility, but that does not solve the underlying problems that we have to face,” Gurria said. “The world is growing at less than 3 percent. The cruising speed before the  crisis was 4 percent. Trade is growing at 1.7 percent. It should be growing at 7 percent. Investment, the same thing.”
He continued by noting that “we lost Brexit,” indicating he was on the other side of the British people and President Trump in that battle over the United Kingdom’s sovereignty because people lacked confidence in global leaders.
Gurria, in the summer before the 2016 election, also called Trump a “racist.”
“I would tend to agree with those who say that this is not only misinformed, but yes, I think the word racist can be applied,” he said when asked in a summer 2016 Al-Jazeera interview about Trump’s comments about how Mexico is not sending their best people to America during his campaign launch in the summer of 2015.
“I think that because the American public is wise, it will then act in consequence,” Gurria added about the then-upcoming election, implying he was hoping Clinton beat Trump in November 2016.
Gurria, in that interview, also called Trump’s push for a border wall on the U.S. border with Mexico—that Mexico pays for—a “rather crazy idea” that is “not going to happen.”
“Period,” Gurria added.
Perhaps even more outrageous is the fact that Gurria received, in 2007, the first-ever “Globalist of the Year” award—given to him by the Canadian International Council (CIC).
“I am honoured to receive this award, which acknowledges my longstanding personal commitment to multilateral co-operation,” Gurria said at the time in a press release on the OECD’s website, which also notes that CIC’s chair Jim Balsillie, who was also at the time the Co-CEO of Research in Motion, presented Gurria with the award.
It is in this press release that the OECD, Gurria’s organization, acknowledges the OECD secretary-general’s role in pushing for NAFTA on Mexico’s behalf.
“As a senior Mexican civil servant in the early 1980s, Mr. Gurria worked closely with leading multilateral bodies, including the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, to seek solutions to the Mexican debt crisis,” the press release noted. “Later, he participated in Mexico’s negotiations on NAFTA and on accession to OECD, of which it has been a member since 1994. As Mexico’s foreign minister and then finance minister between 1994 and 2000, he played a prominent role on the world stage, chairing OECD’s 1999 Ministerial Council Meeting in which developing and emerging countries participated at Mexico’s initiative for the first time.”
Peru’s unwillingness to pay up on its bond obligations have serious impacts on Americans across the country. Firefighters, police officers, building trades, states and municipalities, food and commercial workers, and bakers are owed upwards of $2 billion from the Peruvian government.
The South American nation’s refusal to pay the debts is drawing criticism from both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat.
Last year, Teamsters union President James Hoffa wrote a letter to Peru’s U.S. envoy demanding repayment of the bonds.
“Many of our pension funds are holding defaulted Peruvian land bonds through various investment vehicles,” Hoffa wrote in the letter to Peru’s U.S. envoy Carlos Pareja, per a report in Politico. “We believe that America can no longer allow countries that take advantage of our large domestic market to get away with defaulting on their debts, particularly when it hurts our workers and retirees. The Teamsters union calls on the Peruvian government to make good on its responsibility to pay its debts.”
But it is not just the unions and Democrats demanding this; Republicans are pushing for accountability too. House Foreign Relations Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), in a letter to Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski dated July 24, 2017, wrote, “As you know, this issue is felt by millions whose retirement plans hold these bonds.”