The Spain-Team is an American reality TV show about a group of men directly descended from the first Spanish sailors to come to the New World. Filmed in the style of a documentary, the show depicts the men working as modern-day conquistadores while on the run from the Spanish Inquisition for heresies they did not commit. The Spain-Team is produced by Bill O'Reilly and has aired on the Fox Network since 2006. Although the series accurately portrays the main characters as racist, genocidal soldiers of fortune whenever they confront dark-skinned indigenous people, the Spain-Team is never actually captured by Grand Inquisitor Cardinal Ximinez because the team always expects the Spanish Inquisition. The show is in its eighth season and remains highly popular in American states with low Latino populations and high White Anglo-Saxon Protestant populations.
"In 1492, a Spanish crew of sailors and their Italian captain were sent to prison cells on three naval brigs by an ecclesiastical court for heresies they did not commit. These men promptly escaped on the three ships and sailed from Spain to the Puerto Rican underground in the New World. Today, still wanted by the Spanish Inquisition, their descendants survive as modern-day conquistadores. If you have a problem with uppity island natives, if no established army can help, and if you can find these genocidal maniacs, maybe you can hire... The Spain-Team."
——Opening narration spoken by Cheech Marin
The show has remained popular for its clownish, over-the-top depiction of white-on-brown violence, predictable genocidal episodes, its characters' ability to form lethal weaponry out of venereal disease and fire water, and its distinctive theme tune. The show has made Bartolomo Antonio "B.A." Columbus - the grandson of Christopher Columbus to the 83rd power - into a pop culture icon. Some of the show's catchphrases, such as "I love it when a Final Solution comes together," "Hannibal Lecter's on that cannibalism jazz," and "I ain't leaving this island with no mutha-fuckin' snakes on a plane!" have also made their way onto T-shirts and other merchandise.
Right-wing talk show host Bill O'Reilly was vacationing on the Carribean island of Puerto Rico during the summer of 2005 when he met a man in a whorehouse who claimed to be a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus. Slightly intrigued, O'Reilly and the man took turns double-teaming a local prostitute in a rat-infested back-alley, all while the man explained how he and his team of "Spaniards" survived by stealing golden idols from the few local Indian tribes who still lived high in the mountains of the island. O'Reilly began to doubt the man's story when the man explained how he hated snakes and always used a whip to steal the Indians' treasures. However, O'Reilly's faith was restored when the man began to talk about the relentless persecution he and his team faced at the hands of the Pope and the Spanish Inquisition. The two men parted ways, but not before O'Reilly asked for the other man's business card. The card read: "Bartolomo Antonio Columbus - Conquistador Moderno." There was no address or contact information on the card except for a phone number that turned out to be the direct line to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. O'Reilly eventually learned that B.A. Columbus has a twisted sense of humor.
Upon returning to the United States, O'Reilly marched into the office of the CEO of the Fox Network and placed B.A. Columbus' business card on the CEO's desk. He then pitched his idea for a reality show called "The Spain-Team," which would be like a combination of Apocalypse Now, Last of the Mohicans, Seinfeld and Dances with Wolves. Well, not really so much Dances with Wolves. The Fox Network reluctantly agreed to film a pilot episode. The Spain-Team was not generally expected to become a hit, although O'Reilly predicted that America was "ready for a show about how a small group of die-hard European outlaws could still wipe out an inferior race even in today's politically-correct world." The show quickly became very popular; the first regular episode, which aired on January 30, 2006, reached 66.6% of the television audience, placing first in the top 10 Nielsen-rated shows.
The Spain-Team revolves around four direct descendants of the crew that manned the Spanish ship Santa Maria captained by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The men make their living in Puerto Rico as a self-styled team of modern-day conquistadores, although in truth they are nothing more than genocidal soldiers of fortune. Their leader is Capitan Bartolomo Antonio "B.A. Columbus", who claims to be the grandson of Christopher Columbus to the 83rd power. The Spain-Team's second-in-command is First Mate Hannibal "Lecter" Cortez, whose plans tend to be unorthodox in that he often figures out a way to not only plunder native villages, but also to eat their inhabitants. The next member of the team, Ferdinand de Castillo, is usually called "El Guapo." He is a handsome, regal-looking trickster who serves as the team's seducer of native women. The final team member is Guillermo "El Loco" Mendoza, who has been declared insane by the Puerto Rican government and lives in a mental institution. Mendoza's hijinks provide comic relief during scenes when B.A. Columbus is filmed gunning down dozens of native children and Hannibal "Lecter" Cortez is recorded eating the warm, still-beating hearts of Indian grandmothers.
During their conquests, the Spain-Team is constantly met by opposition from the Spanish Inquisition as led by Cardinal Ximenez of Madrid, Spain. Cardinal Ximenez encounters the Spain-Team in almost every episode just as the team is about to burn an Indian village or rape a group of five-year-old Indian girls. Each time the Cardinal meets them, he is backed by his crack team of soldiers from the Vatican Special Forces and seems bound to apprehend the conquistadores. Still, it never fails that just as Cardinal Ximenez begins to read the charges against the Spain-Team (heresy in the Third Degree for believing the Earth is round), B.A. Columbus raises the ecclesiastical defense that he and his team know the Earth is flat and are being wrongfully charged with the sins of their fathers, which were expunged centuries ago after just four generations. (Exodus 20:5 and 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 5:9.) The only explanation for B.A. Columbus' ability to quickly deflect persecution in each episode is that he and the Spain-Team fully expect the Spanish Inquisition, and so are always prepared with a pre-planned defense.
Since the show consists of a reality television series, each episode is unscripted and completely impromptu. Many of the episode titles are nevertheless plays on the names of famous movies. For example, the title of an early episode, "Silence of the Latinos", is a play on the classic 1991 movie "Silence of the Lambs." The episode and the movie both involve an intelligent, predatory man named "Hannibal" who eats weaker, innocent victims. Similarly, in the episode "La Malinche", El Guapo pretends to be a bearded white god in order to seduce the daughter of a tribal Indian shaman, thus allowing the Spain-Team to sneak into the shaman's village at night and butcher all of the inhabitants. This is similar to director Robert Rogriguez's break-out hit movie "El Mariachi," in which a handsome, itinerant musician wanders into a small Mexican town, seduces the local drug lord's mistress, and then invades the drug lord's compound and kills the man and his entire cartel.
The series has always featured a mule-drawn cart, owned by B.A. Columbus, as the getaway vehicle for the Spain-Team, although in some episodes the team inexplicably has access to an American Vietnam-Era Helicopter known as "Puff the Magic Dragon." The most recent season of The Spain-Team featured a safehouse provided by the Governor of Puerto Rico in a crack house within the island's capital of San Juan. Most episodes have featured the Spain-Team helping wealthy, upper-class Puerto Ricans of European descent who are unable to solve their "native" problems with help from conventional sources, as per the show's opening narration, which states, "If you have a problem with uppity island natives, if no established army can help, and if you can find these genocidal maniacs, maybe you can hire... The Spain-Team."
In 2010, Walt Disney Pictures released a feature-length film version of the television show in theaters world-wide. Entitled, "The Spain-Team: The Amazing (Master) Race," the movie was a box-office flop and was pulled from theaters after only three days. It earned a record-low box-office intake of only $23,132.00 and was not ever released on video; instead, it was released direct-to-landfill in January of 2012. Nevertheless, the film has garnered a cult following among German white-supremacist cannibals.
Many viewers have been dissatisfied with the television show's easy-going attitude towards Indian natives in Puerto Rico. Although a handful of television critics have complained that the show wrongly glorifies extermination of native populations by greedy descendants of European colonists, such critics have all died of Small Pox infections after receiving disease-ridden blankets as Christmas gifts over the past four years.