1990 was a tremendously turbulent year for Madrid and, more specifically, for one of its neighborhoods: Cerro Belmonte. The residents of the humble but tenacious neighborhood were unwilling to comply with a speculative plan supported by the Madrid City Council to expropriate and evict 125 families in exchange for building luxury villas. Thus, the first complaints were translated into protests in front of the house of the mayor of Madrid, Agustín Rodríguez Sahagún. However, his indifference caused the escalation of the situation.
To increase the pressure, the neighborhood representatives sent a symbolic letter of denunciation to Fidel Castro. To their surprise, the Cuban leader replied, offering asylum, work, and home and an all-expenses-paid trip for a delegation of 12 neighbors (which was actually carried out).
The summer was passing and the neighborhood demonstrations were still not producing results. In consequence, the neighbors’ legal representative, Esther Castellanos, announced that Cerro Belmonte would become an independent state if the expropriation project was not cancelled before September. They were very serious, to the point that they designed their own flag, an anthem (“We want bread, we want wine, we want the mayor hanging from a pine”), their own currency (the “belmonteño“) and their own constitution.
Authorities relented, but it was not enough. Finally, in September 1990, an impromptu referendum was held in the house of one of the neighbors by which the independent Kingdom of Belmonte was founded with 214 votes in favor and two against. To consolidate it, a request was sent to the UN for recognition.
The Kingdom without a king (the neighbors offered the crown to Juan Carlos I) died soon, when it ceased to be useful. In November the neighborhood achieved its long-awaited victory with the surrender of the City Council and the cancellation of the urban development project. That was the chronicle of the tenacious struggle of a group of neighbors who founded the shortest country in history.
The flag of the “Kingdom of Belmonte” consisted of two red horizontal bands, symbol of the people’s struggle, and a white band (in allusion to the fact that the City Council wanted to impoverish them) with a red star in its center, the one taken from the flag of the Community of Madrid.