In the selection of preservation sites, the World Heritage Committee poses the question: What is it that constitutes the outstanding value of a cultural or natural treasure?
There are inherent contradictions in the notion of world heritage and universality is embedded in this concept. The process of universalization transforms monuments and architecture into symbols or icons and their existence becomes a singular reference to a particular historic narrative or era. This interpretation is then packaged and marketed. Cultural remaking and reinvention of tradition is knitted with controversy centered around authenticity, heritage, tradition, culture, and identity formation.
Historically, the character of the Caribbean landscape has been assembled through a series of imposed attachments. To position themselves within the neoliberal economy, El Yunque was incorporated under the U.S. National Park Service, named Puerto Rico Caribbean National Tropical Rainforest, and promoted as the only rainforest under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Wildlife refuges on the island of Vieques were established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service with the intention of capitalizing on the eco-tourism industry. Further, the development of high-end resorts were also built on Vieques by multinational hotel companies. The seaport took an active role in the tourism campaign as it is one of the busiest home ports of cruise line ships in the world.