The neighborhood of Madrid, which declared its independence from Spain and closed its borders with the help of Fidel Castro

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The neighborhood of Madrid, which declared its independence from Spain and closed its borders with the help of Fidel Castro
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The seed of this forgotten episode that rocked the capital of the Kingdom in 1990 was collected two years earlier by ABC. "New studies to eradicate the 19 pockets of poverty of Madrid", announced the headline of the September 15, 1988. The news explained that the town Hall planned to build up to 7,200 dwellings to end it "with the urban decay, which in some cases it is shantytowns and other substandard housing". "Through the expropriation shall leave undeveloped land to target the public service, commercial or residential. And to the people affected the realojará or indemnify", he added.

it then listed those "pockets of poverty", among which were the districts of Puente de Vallecas, El Carmen, Gazebo Elliptical, Carabanchel bajo, Méndez Álvaro, Delight and the one that concerns us: Cerro Belmonte. This last one was located in the district of Valdezarza, Madrid (spain). It housed little more than 200 people were enough to make a big noise in the media in Spain and to pressure the authorities enough to change their fate. "People's alliance believes that the eradication of these bags is necessary, but you must do it with caution so that the affected people are guaranteed the relocation and avoid speculation", warned Enrique Viloria, alderman of this training, before the outbreak of this crisis separatist.

Cerro Belmonte was limited by the motorway Sinesio Delgado, and bordered, on the one hand, with the calle Villaamil and, on the other, with the area of Peña Girl. A kind of small town in Madrid, formed by low houses, inhabited by elderly people, who had formed forty years before by some 125 families who built their houses with their own hands in an illegal way. But he approached the decade of the 90's, at the time of the boom of the brick, and the town Council wanted to take the time to develop its ambitious development plan. The problem for neighbors is that they did not want them expropiaran their homes, most of which were spacious with large patios.

5.018 pesetas per square metre

The straw that broke the camel's back for owners of Cerro Belmonte was the small price administration established per square meter of the face of the expropriation: 5.018 pesetas. And also the fact that as an alternative for your relocation only offered two areas away from your neighborhood: Broadway theater or Villaverde. As A result, neighbors began to mobilize in early summer. The news was not long in arriving. "The 125 families expropriated by the City of Madrid in the stock of urban decay of Cerro Belmonte is going to manifest before the house of the mayor, as reported by the legal representative of the affected, Esther Spanish. The neighbors want that Agustín Rodríguez Sahagún to intervene so that their homes expropriated to 5.018 pesetas by square meter are not delivered to private developers to build townhouses to 200,000 pesetas the metro", told this newspaper on July 12, 1990.

The protests were reaching greater impact in the media as the days went by and found no solution. Just ten days later, on the 26th of July, reported the new ABC: "The neighbors of Cerro Belmonte was asked yesterday for political asylum to Fidel Castro, through a written and handed in the Embassy of Cuba. In the note to qualify the expropriation of their houses "unfair" and "speculative", and tell the dictator that "to expect to find in their land rights and justice that we are denied to us"". A decision taken in the wake of the news about the diplomatic conflict that Spain had with Cuba. Approaching the enemy, they would do more damage and noise, they thought.

The threat of eviction was ever more real and the protests mushroomed. There were more appearances in the media, hunger strikes, closures of churches as important as the cathedral of San Isidro, complaints to the Police, and the famous petition of independence from Spain. It was the 20 of August when the lawyer of those affected said that the City had until September and, "if then you have not deigned to negotiate with us, we shall constitute an Independent State". "The neighbors insist that it's no joke: "we would organise elections to choose the president of the Government, cederíamos the crown to the King of Spain and diseñaríamos our flag"," threatened Spanish.

Travel to Cuba

Their claims came to the ears of Fidel Castro, who saw in the struggle an opportunity to make much of the alleged benefits of his dictatorship in favor of the most needy. Put at the disposal of the affected twelve plane tickets to travel to Cuba and enjoy the ten days with all expenses paid. "The Fidel castro we are going to receive personally," said the lawyer to this newspaper. At the end traveled 25 and, indeed, they were received by the dictator.

"in Addition to the request of asylum –could be read after– the neighbors of Cerro Belmonte have undertaken other actions of protest to try to prevent the city Council to execute the plans of expropriation. Since last Monday, the inhabitants of the neighborhood and told all the accesses to the same with barricades. The attorney for the neighbors said also that "it is not ruled out undertaking other measures most spectacular"".

The cuban press became echo of that struggle and the journey that the neighbors were going to perform to the island. Fidel Castro, in addition, referred to them for 45 minutes in his speech on the occasion of the 37th anniversary of the assault to the Barracks Moncada, putting them as an example of the true Spanish people. Meanwhile, the expropriated rejected all the proposals that were made to the manager of Urban development, Fernando Hipólito, and they demanded that the floors that had to deliver in compensation were of more than 100 square metres. Some are even calling for 200. And later refused to sit lower to have a dialogue with the authorities.

The referendum illegal

The neighbors have acquired much prominence. Almost all the media in Spain had been made to echo the challenge of independence, including newspapers, basque court, separatist as "Egin", who took up that cause, surreal. The Madrid city Council held on the pulse, and the neighbors were a step beyond announcing the holding of a referendum in the first week of September. The improvised "electoral college" was the house of "Desi", one of the affected seniors in the neighborhood. The polls were made in a time of cardboard and paper ballots were hand made by the neighbours.

The census of Cerro Belmonte and the surrounding countryside consisted of 214 neighbors. Was held on the 5th day and the victory, they said these, it was overwhelming in favor of "yes": 212 votes in favor of separating from Spain, by two against. And so they announced the creation of the Kingdom of Cerro Belmonte, which included, wait for the males, to the Principality of Villaamil and the County of Rock Girl.

it then drafted a constitution, composed a hymn, closed their borders with fences work, and they designed a flag with three horizontal stripes (red, white, and red) and a white triangle on one side. After you cut off the circulation in the main streets and set up tents on the football field so that children and the elderly do guard. And, finally, even minted his own currency: the "belmonteño", which had a value equivalent to 5.018 pesetas, the same that was worth every square meter of their homes.

The dream of independence lasted one week, until the Madrid city Council decided to stop and cancel the expropriation. "Held the breakfast of the victory, between laughs, churros with chocolate and other goodies, the "independent state" of Cerro Belmonte is on the verge of talking to your parish to return to the fold: the "annexation" of the Autonomous region of Madrid may occur from one moment to another. The “political asylum” of Cuba has been put between the strings at the Rodríguez Sahagún. The city council has "capitulated" in the face of social pressure and political forces of Cerro Belmonte, who have gone, directly, of the hunger strike, the churro morning dipped in chocolate," he said with sarcasm, the columnist, ABC Luis Prado Roa, when it was all over, in November of 1990.

Updated Date: 17 September 2019, 06:00

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