It was the expulsion from paradise for a generation of journalists. A punishment and a spur. The flame of the Madrid newspaper, lit amidst the rubble of a literally demolished newspaper, has never been extinguished. Raised like the Olympic torch in relays, it has continued to illuminate the cause of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the Spain of the late Franco regime, the transition and the consolidation of democracy.
Fifty years after that "Orden de cierre al diario Madrid", on 25 November 1971, four years before Franco's death, the struggle of its editors continues. Those irreducible young people lost their jobs, but they were infected forever with the virus of freedom. And they passed it on to the next generation, and the next, making the Spanish journalists of the Transition an unwavering battalion in the cauda de la libertad de prensa waving the flag of Madrid.
An indefatigable Miguel Ángel Aguilar, who took over as head of the editors' society, has never spared a chance, an action to vindicate Madrid, its workers and its cause. This is how I met him with his wallet full of papers, sentences, manifestos in the editorial office of the magazine Comunicación XXI where we started publishing texts relevant to the history of the newspaper and its battle to be reborn. He has never stopped and now, together with his colleagues, he is promoting the reunion of 50 years of memory and action.
"What did we do when they announced the closure? Miguel Ángel Gozalo answers: "We started to make the newspaper of the day". The result was the historic front page with a news item underneath the masthead announcing the closure, and the famous editorial entitled "Goodbye...". A goodbye, with those ellipses that announced this future. "What we are doing today. A Madrid that did not end".
After 17 dossiers, the De Gaulle case arrived. When the article arrived at the editorial office, Gozalo even wanted to remove the name of the Frenchman and leave the article with a simple "NO to the general". The discordant pretitle was the famous "Retreat in time", which, in those years of obligatory reading between the lines, was also understood by the Regime. The battle led by Antonio Fontán and Rafael Calvo Serer to open up Franco's regime, close to liberalism and Don Juanism, was to suffer a death blow after that knock. Fraga's cannon - "firing in all directions" - had hit the bull's eye. The newspaper was closed and the building that housed it was blown up.
That newsroom in General Pardiñas was the home of many penmen, whose ink would never run dry and whose mouths would never be shut. The paper home of Monolo Vicent and his flowery verb, of a Jesús Picatoste (who will never leave), of Pepe Oneto (our in-house correspondent), of the fresh air of Juby Bustamante and the mature youth of Nativel Preciado, the home of Joaquín Bardavío and his "historical memoir", of José Vicente de Juan and his university students, of Ana Zunzarren and Román Orozco. "I was left without a job and with two daughters. Román, who went through all the sections, who was the most popular at the time, packed his bags to earn a living at the Diario de Mallorca, but he always came back. And he never gave up on the greatest cause.
Madrid had changed their lives, and its closure would force them to take a somersault in search of new destinations, never easy until the end of Franco's regime. Wherever they went, they spread their cause, which is that of true journalists. ("The struggle of man against power is the struggle of truth against lies"). "There we were all anti-Francoists. Everyone's objective was to overthrow the dictatorship and bring in democracy", says Nativel, "El Madrid was like an experiment in what would become the Transition". José Vicente de Juan felt it on the front line with his "network of informers" in the faculties. Spain was living its 68+1; in the struggle were students, intellectuals, journalists...and workshop staff "Trevijano would climb up the reels of paper for the press and say: "Don't forget that we are fellow travellers, we are fellow travellers". Don't forget that we are fellow travellers...". It was also the Madrid, diario de la noche of Cuco Cerecedo and his memorable chronicles, which also survive with the air of a prize. And the diary of so many others, with or without a signature.
On the cover of the last issue, the Jack Palance film "La brigada de los condenados" was announced premonitoryy. Madrid is in each and every one of those who did it and continue to proclaim it. And in those who took up the baton and understood that the cauda of the closed Madrid was the cause of true journalism. "Journalism can never desert a cause: the defence of freedom". Half a century without a newspaper that has been news every day. And it will continue to be so. Madrid still needs a masthead with its name on it.