Goya foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US that sells products from the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Central and South America in the US and some Latin countries, has been recently embroiled in controversy after many consumers decided to boycott their products.
The boycott came after the company’s chief executive Robert Unanue praised US President Donald Trump at an event at the White House. Unanue said Trump’s leadership was a “blessing”.
“Mr. President, what can I tell you? I’m so blessed to be here in the most prosperous country in the world, the greatest country in the world. And we’re so blessed to have you as our leader, as we continue to build this country and make it the most prosperous nation in the world,” Unaune said.
“I’m Bob Unanue, third generation. I’m CEO and president of Goya Food, Inc., a multibillion dollar company with facilities all over the United States and the Caribbean,” he added.
At the event last Thursday, Trump signed the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative meant to improve Hispanic American’s access to educational and economic opportunities.
Since the calls for boycott, Trump and his daughter Ivanka have been rallying support for the brand. The President tweeted Wednesday, “@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT. The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!”
.@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT. The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2020
Shortly after, Ivanka posted a photograph on Twitter holding a can of Goya black beans and said in both English and Spanish, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.” Some social media users mocked her by saying that “Black Beans Matter” more than Black lives.
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
However, her comments could be seen as an ethics violation, under which using a public office to endorse products is prohibited.
Since the backlash, Unaune has defended himself. In an interview with Fox News he said he is “not apologising” for praising Trump.
So, what is the reason for the Goya boycott?
Unaune’s endorsement of the President has upset many Hispanics as the brand largely caters to them and Trump has often targeted the community. Apart from his immigration policies and his attempt to build a border wall with Mexico, Trump in 2016 called Mexicans “rapists”.
Those boycotting Goya products have started sharing alternative brands and recipes with hashtags such as #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway.
Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also supported the boycott. In response to Ivanka’s tweet, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in Spanish, “Si es Trump, tiene que ser corrupto”, which loosely translates to, “If it’s Trump, he has to be corrupt.”
Julián Castro, the former Democratic presidential candidate wrote in an article for CNN, “Unanue’s comments were offensive because he and his Spanish-American family have profited mightily from Latinos, the very people that Trump has treated like a piñata for his own political profit.”
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Goya’s supporters, on the other hand, have called the boycott a part of the “cancel culture” and are alternately promoting hashtags such as “BUYcott” to encourage people to buy Goya products.
Goya is a staple of Cuban food. My grandparents ate Goya black beans twice a day for nearly 90 years. And now the Left is trying to cancel Hispanic culture and silence free speech. #BuyGoya https://t.co/Mhb7inVKWl
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 10, 2020
Senator Ted Cruz said on Twitter, “Goya is a staple of Cuban food. My grandparents ate Goya black beans twice a day for nearly 90 years. And now the Left is trying to cancel Hispanic culture and silence free speech. #BuyGoya.”
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Other supporters have pointed out the company’s donations of food to help with relief during the pandemic.
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