Sebastiaan Faber at Public Books:
La gran ilusión is an original and penetrating take on the last decade of mounting tensions between Catalonia and Spain, tensions that have now culminated in Spain’s deepest political crisis since the late 1970s. Guillem Martínez’s reporting leads him to a straightforward conclusion: Catalonia is real; the independence process, not so much.
For those of us who watch Spain from afar, few things are more baffling than the enormous distance separating Madrid from Barcelona. Even the laws of physics don’t seem to apply in quite the same way in both places. A burden that in Barcelona weighs a ton might in Madrid feel light as a feather.
This helps explain the ease with which Catalan deputies Joan Tardà and Gabriel Rufián move around in Spain’s Parliament. In their frequent interventions on behalf of their party, the anti-monarchist, pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, Republican Left of Catalonia), they leap and pirouette over difficult topics like slaphappy astronauts on the moon. As outsiders with no investment in Spain’s national institutions, they are free from the taboos that weigh down the other deputies, limiting what is mentionable aloud. Tardà and Rufián can afford to tell the truth—something seen so rarely in the Spanish Congress that it strikes everyone else as scandalous.