A "watch list" drawn up by Mexican security forces of 80 anti-globalization activists who are believed to be headed for Cancun for the World Trade Organization gathering next month has provoked an angry response - from those whose names are missing.
Ten days ago, the Mexican daily La Reforma ran a story on a "watch list" that has been compiled by the security forces concerned about possible trouble at the September 10-14 event. The list named 60 international and 20 Mexican anti-globalization activists.
The list was to enable the large numbers of police guarding the WTO delegates to put those named under surveillance. Ever since the events at Seattle in 1999, authorities hosting the WTO or the International Monetary Fund meetings have launched huge security operations.
Now hundreds of activists who also plan to attend the event have demanded that their names be included as worthy of surveillance.
A letter addressed to "Government Agents Bent on Restricting Civil Liberties", which is currently being circulated for signatures, reads: "I recently found out about the 'watch list' prepared by Mexican authorities, purportedly to quell the voice of civil society at the upcoming WTO Ministerial in Cancun.
"Despite hefty expenditures of tax money on intelligence gathering ... we are concerned that you were only able to find 60 internationals and 20 Mexicans who are opposed to the World Trade Organization Haven't you noticed that the tide of public opinion is turning decidedly against the WTO? ...Please add my name to your 'watch list' immediately!"
The letter continues: "If you are unwilling to add my name to the list, then I must insist that you remove those singled out for special attention. I can assure you that we have similar views - we are all opposed to the WTO and a 'free' trade agenda that impoverish the majority of us while enriching a few corporations."
"We've received calls from people all over the hemisphere demanding to know why their names were omitted from the list despite the fact that they've attended protests against the WTO, lobbied their legislators and educated their communities about the dangers of the WTO," said Tom Hansen of the Mexico Solidarity Network, whose name appears on the list.
"Millions of disappointed people were omitted from the list and they are demanding action. None of them have been consulted about the content of WTO agreements, so they at least want to be recognized for their hard work in opposition." Mr Hansen said yesterday that "thousands, if not tens of thousands" were expected in Cancun.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003