* State thought to owe anywhere from $1 bln to $8 bln
* Bonds date to 1970s land reform program
LIMA, July 16 Peru's top court on Tuesday
ordered the government to pay 40-year-old land reform bonds at
their current value and with interest, terms that will likely
lead to a payment worth several billion dollars.
The government has six months to pass a decree with further
details on how to appraise the bonds and carry out the payments,
two years to recognize the debt and eight years to pay it off,
the court's president Oscar Urviola said.
The payments don't have to be in cash and could be made in
the form of land or by issuing new bonds, he told local news
Peru's President Ollanta Humala's administration has
previously said it would comply with the long-awaited decision,
which aims to clear up a bitter chapter in Peruvian history.
The bonds were issued as compensation for land confiscated
and redistributed to the poor in the 1970s.
The resolution said the president of Peru's Constitutional
Tribunal ruled in favor of bondholders after members were split
3-3 on whether to force the government to pay off the debt.
Conservative estimates put the value of land-reform bonds at
between $1 billion and $3 billion. Other estimates say the
liability is far larger, between $4.6 billion and $8 billion, or
about 4 percent of Peru's gross domestic product.
Previous Peruvian presidents have resisted honoring the
bonds, saying they lacked the cash, even after the court ruled
12 years ago that the government should pay up.
Paying off the bonds will officially put their value on the
government's books, though resolving the outstanding debt might
also boost Peru's credit ratings.
Last week Humala asked the court to abstain from ruling on
"sensitive" topics such as the land bonds until Congress named
new members to the court - suggesting the court's decision would
Humala was elected in 2011 after pledging to make sure the
poor benefited from Peru's decade-long economic boom.
Bond payments could further anger critics who say Humala has
favored the rich, as public sector doctors strike for wage
increases and civil servants and universities protest
Much of the land-reform debt has been bought by local and
foreign creditors over the years.
"I voted against resolving the debt because I don't believe
ownership of the bonds is legitimate," court member Fernando
Calle said on RPP television.
The agricultural bonds were issued as compensation for land
lost in the 1970s under a redistribution program started by
leftist dictator General Juan Velasco, who sought to create a
more equal society and redress the legacies of Spanish
Many middle-class farmers and workers were ensnared in the
program, which caused Peru's agricultural output to collapse
when 5,000 farms were seized between 1969 and 1981.
Since the 1990s, Peru has shed Velasco's left-wing economic
model and become one of the region's fastest-growing economies,
with free-trade agreements from China to Europe and
investment-grade credit ratings.