Manuel Estapé Tous – thus, with his two surnames, as he always wanted to sign – died on Sunday in a hospital in Castellón, due to one of those illnesses that sometimes become more complicated than expected and do not provide options. It had been a few years since Manuel Estapé had written in La Vanguardia, because lives, especially those of those who live theirs intensely, as was the case with him, take many turns. And one of those turns took him away from these pages. But for just over 25 years – not a short time – Manuel Estapé Tous was a regular feature in the Economy section of this newspaper. No one like him – with the permission of others who also did it and those who do it – explained to us what macroeconomics is and especially international economics. The Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Bretton Woods, the Davos Forum, the G-7, currencies, adjustments... I attended their summits and tried to explain what was being cooked there so that those who usually feel a certain caution when faced with the pages of Economy understood how and why what is discussed and decided there does not affect only the richest but also the common mortals. (Those were the times when the Frenchman Michel Camdessus headed the IMF; luckily, he was spared having to deal with directors like Rodrigo Rato or Dominique Strauss-Kahn).
Estapé was therefore very good at what he did, economic journalism, but there was an added bonus in him: he always had something of a lawyer, not because he had studied law, which he did not do, but because he had a lot of what we call a lawyer of the poor. Reading The Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times daily or taking home essays on economics and international relations had a purpose: to understand the origin of the inequalities that govern us as a necessary step to combat them. It always seemed to me that, in some way, economic journalism was a form of activism for Estapé. That is why it is not surprising that he was also one of the pillars of the defense of workers, of their rights, within La Vanguardia. And with this – and with what he taught some of us – he contributed to making this company always a little better, even when not everyone always understood it or did not agree with it. Surely it wasn't always easy for him either, especially being called Estapé, son of one of the most famous, if not the most, Spanish economists, Fabián Estapé.
However, who I will remember – we will remember – is not the informed, professional, didactic journalist; not even the intellectually brilliant, intelligent man. The one I will remember – we will remember – is Manolo. To Manolo, the generous one – like few others –, the fun one, even if he was moderate, the friend of his friends, the shy one with whom it was not always easy to connect. And Manolo the music lover, who played Manu Chao's songs on a loop and opened our ears to French rappers that we still didn't know (that was the Francophile Manolo, who also read Libération).
And always, always, the unbribable Manolo, even though this is often a mishandled and abused adjective. Manolo faithful to his ideas. For some, sometimes, beyond understanding. Even when it might seem to us that his efforts might not do him any good and perhaps did not help him in his problems with what a few years ago was not talked about as much, such as mental health. Whatever he was, always in his own way, living his life as he wanted to live it, he was part of ours. Thank you for existing, Manolo.