MADRID—Seeking to reestablish Spain's global dominance after centuries of diminished empire, Spanish King Juan Carlos proclaimed yesterday his intention to unleash a mighty fighting force of conquistadores to reconquer, convert, enslave, and exploit the native populations of the Western Hemisphere.
"On this day we set sail for the New World to reclaim what is rightfully ours, and any savage who opposes us shall be either chained or broken in our name," Juan Carlos told the slightly confused crowd of Madrid citizens gathered under threat of death outside the Placio Imperiatus, formerly the Banco Madrid. "All shall bow their heads to Spain and Christ or lose them!"
"Be warned, peoples of the Americas, for the Reino Imperio de España comes to wreak havoc upon your heads and bring you under the yoke of Christ, God save you," he added.
Juan Carlos issued an Imperial decree to build an "unstoppable" naval fleet of some 130 ships constructed from the "finest timbers felled from the grandest forests of Christendom," the likes of which, according to Spanish lore, "has not been espied on the high seas since the glory days of the 16th century."
Upon reaching the New World, the "Nueva Conquistadores" are entreated to establish military strongholds in such strategic ports as Havana, Santo Domingo, Port-au-Prince, Caracas, and Miami and use gleaming armor and mastery of gunpowder to convince locals that they are demigods. The invading forces will then "completely annihilate" native industrial sectors and "place the natives under the whip," forcing them to toil for gold to finance Spain's continued expansion.
"Cowardly brutes of the New World: Prepare for either salvation and servitude or hell on earth!" Juan Carlos intoned into an ornate red and gold megaphone before the largely silent crowd.
The Grande y Felicisima Armada Invencible, armed with an arsenal of cannons and muskets, is expected to subdue the area's estimated 500 million residents—more than 10 times the population of Spain itself—with "sheer force and the purifying flame of the Lord" sometime next spring, when the three-masted ships complete their arduous journey across the Atlantic.
Analysts say that Spain, with a standing army of 86,000 and one of the smallest military budgets in Western Europe, will face significant challenges in its rise to empire.
"It remains to be seen how the highly organized information- and service-based economy of the Bahamas will adapt to brutal conquest and forced labor," said University of Chicago political science professor Thomas Osbourne. "But the Spanish do have centuries of experience, so they should not be underestimated."
Imperial Spanish heralds say Juan Carlos was excited by reports that even the humblest citizens of the New World regularly walked around wearing jewels and solid gold, and lived in simple wooden structures known as "ranch houses," which could easily be put to the torch.
The imperial statement confirmed that Spain, whose economy currently ranks near the top 10 in Europe, would renew its search for the long-lost Fountain of Youth, believed to lie 50 miles west of popular tourist destination Kissimmee-St. Cloud.
"If the Armada's voyage is successful it would vastly increase Imperial Spain's land holdings, as well as give them complete control of Mexico's growing industrial centers and, presumably, the hospitality economies of the Caribbean, thrusting the new empire to the forefront of the world stage," said Katherine Tooley of the policy think tank the Heritage Foundation. "They might even land a seat on the U.N. Security Council."
Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice said if attacked, the U.S. could not rule out retaliation through deployment of its 500,000 active naval personnel, 278 seafaring combat vessels, and more than 4,000 aircraft including, the F-4 and F-18 model fighter jets. "We are more than willing to sit down and listen to Spain's demands, but the last thing anyone wants is to get involved in a protracted military action," Rice said. "Or even a relatively short military action."
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict has urged King Carlos to show mercy in his dealings with the inhabitants of the Western Shores, at least until negotiations can be finalized to peaceably divide the region between Spain and its equally ambitious neighbor state, the Exalted Second Empire of Portugal.