By Corina Pons, Luc Cohen and Mayela Armas

CARACAS (Reuters) – Three small investment funds have started buying defaulted Venezuelan bonds as hopes of a change of government are fading and the South American nation is proposing a restructuring, according to sources and documents.

Canaima Capital Management, headquartered on the English Channel island of Guernsey, Uruguay-based Copernico and Cayman Islands-based Altana have bought heavily discounted bonds with face value of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to eight finance industry sources in Caracas, New York, Miami, Madrid and London.

The funds appear to be part of a small group of contrarian investors bucking the broader market consensus, which maintains there is little value in Venezuelan bonds that have not been serviced in nearly three years amid an economic crisis.

The funds believe it is time to act and to evaluate legal options instead of waiting for a friendly negotiation with allies of Juan Guaido, who is recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president, even though he still hasn’t taken power.

The funds argue investors may be unable to recover missed interest payment after 2020 due to a statute of limitations clause in the bonds’ covenants – an assertion flatly denied by the main committee for Venezuela creditors.

Nonetheless, the efforts to amplify these concerns has fueled nervousness and increased the willingness of bondholders to sell their notes, according to four Venezuelan finance industry sources.

Altana, which two sources said was offering to buy bonds this year, has already taken legal action against Venezuela to try to force payment. In an Oct. 8 complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the fund demanded payment from Venezuela on $108 million of defaulted bonds.

That came after investment funds Casa Express and