Donald Trump Wants to Buy Puerto Rico??

••• San Juan seen from the air. Photo © Zain Deane

In case you haven't heard, Donald Trump is at it again. In what is turning out to be one of the weirdest, most offensive and least politically correct political campaign in history, Trump recently said he would purchase the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. His motives, apparently, are altruistic. By purchasing the island, Trump intends to eradicate its fiscal woes. He also wants to rename it, Puerto Trump. 

The presidential hopeful went on to say that Puerto Rico was "a beautiful place, the weather's great, and the people are already American, even though they speak Spanish. I have no idea how that happened, but so be it."

Trump also has big plans for the island; namely, to turn the majority of it into a golfer's paradise, with at least 100 courses stretching from one end of the island to the other. 

He's already got a running start with the Trump International Golf Club, the home of the PGA Puerto Rico Open. Located next to the lovely Gran Meliá, it's indeed a beautiful course. Whether the PGA keeps its ties with The Donald remains to be seen.

Trump also had ambitious plans to bring back much of the Puerto Rican workforce. He tweeted that Puerto Ricans in New York would be so happy with his efforts on the island that they would leave the Big Apple and flock to ... the Big Trump?  In fact, he even said he would pay their airfare since they weren't going to vote for him anyway.

It's hard to believe that anyone within Puerto Rico or in the US would support this plan, but I did want to confirm some of the things Trump said about Puerto Rico and clarify a few others:

1. "You can speak Spanish. You can be an American. And you can play golf, too." - Absolutely correct. But guess what? Many Puerto Ricans speak English too, which always helps travelers who want to visit the island but are worried about a potential language barrier.

2. "We'll have 100 courses," he said, "stretching from one end of the island to another. I don't think there's really that much in the way. Maybe some chickens." - Not quite. At a minimum, your landscaping plans would be interrupted by two major obstacles. The first is El Yunque, the magnificent subtropical rainforest, the only one in the U.S. Forest Service and one of my favorite places in Puerto Rico. The other is the Cordillera Central, or Central Ridge, the largest mountain range on the island.

Please don't alter those too much; there are thousands of species of flora and fauna, as well as hundreds of thousands of tourist and millions of locals, who wouldn't be grateful.

3. "I don't need to wait until I'm President to fix this." - Also true, at least theoretically. And may I humbly suggest you start by rescuing the Trump International Golf Club, which apparently filed for bankruptcy recently. I know you don't own the club, Mr. Trump, but bailing it out would go a long way toward showing what you can do for the rest of the island.

As a very long-time tourist to Puerto Rico, I've never lost the sense of wonder and delight I feel when I walk the streets of Old San Juan, step on the sand of my favorite beaches, or dive into a truly outstanding mofongo. And part of what makes this island so magical is precisely it's blend of American advantages and local culture, flavor and spirit. So please, Mr. Trump... do not buy Puerto Rico.