In newspapers there are essential people who are often anonymous. People who go unnoticed because they do not sign news, but without whom this newspaper, like so many others, would not be published every day. People to whom many of us have said, half jokingly, half seriously: “this one needs to have a plaque on the door.” One of them was José Luis de la Fuente, Chiqui for everyone, even for his professional email. Chiqui died this morning in Madrid, at the age of 58.
He grew up in Miguel Yuste. The EL PAÍS editorial office was his home and we, his colleagues, his other family. His presence gave us security when we panicked because something wasn’t working. When the computer system went down, when you were many kilometers away and couldn’t transmit a report because the computer failed or when you were going on a special assignment and needed an infrastructure that would make your work easier. Chiqui was there to carefully prepare even the bulletproof vest.
We are not even talking about other moments of anxiety, when widespread works or changes in location demanded his presence, plan in hand, to listen to everyone and try to ensure that the majority was happy and the damage was minimal and collateral. On one occasion and another the recurring phrase in the Editorial Office was: “Where is Chiqui?” And Chiqui appeared with her calm walk and his smile to call for calm and fix the problem.
According to the business organization chart, Chiqui did not belong to the editorial team, but the reality was different. He was always one of us. He watched over us and we watched over him. He loved us so much that for a while he dedicated himself to taking photos of us without us realizing it and he decorated his office with them.
In one of those restructuring that companies sometimes undertake pointlessly, they decided that their position was no longer necessary. We all raised our voices to defend him and our director, who had just arrived, asked: “Who is Chiqui?” With four pieces of information about what he meant to us, Chiqui became one of us again as quickly as he had stopped being one.
He liked many things. He taught us editors how to use computer systems and taught us master’s students how to live in a newsroom. He was one of the first to tinker with social networks, to talk about digital newspapers that were adamant that they only had to bet on paper and also one of the first to have a blog, the last one dedicated to advertising. . This newspaper was one of his passions, as well as Real Madrid, the team that has given him many joys and some displeasure. Only on those days did his smile fade.
His health had been playing tricks on him in recent times. He took care of us all, but he didn’t take care of himself as much as he should have. A colleague tells me that the last time she spoke with him she was optimistic and looking forward to returning to that Editorial Office that she loved so much to continue paying attention from the first to the last, although she was afraid that someone would not know him after a few months of absence. That’s how quickly things happen in a newspaper. His friends chatted recently to meet up for a meal and catch up. He will no longer be sitting at the table, but we will attend the meeting to toast so many things shared. Surely some of us will forget such a terrible loss and he will hear again: “Where is Chiqui?” These things happen to those who become essential.