Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S., faced swift backlash on social media after its CEO lauded President Trump during a Hispanic Prosperity Initiative event in the White House.
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Goya CEO Robert Unanue said at the White House event Thursday that featured a group of Hispanic politicians, business leaders, and other supporters. “And that’s what my grandfather did: He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. And so we have an incredible builder. And we pray — we pray for our leadership, our president and we pray for our country — that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”
He also announced that Goya would donate 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and 1 million other food products to American food banks.
“We are very proud to give back to this nation, to the food banks which are going to be needing some of that important food, something that we do all year,” he said.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, Goya has donated over 300,000 pounds of food, equivalent to 270,000 meals to food banks and other organizations as part of its relief effort. Goya Foods partnered with the Food Education Fund and donated 18,225 meals to six New York City schools “to help economically-challenged students and their families.”
On Thursday, Trump signed an of the “Hispanic Prosperity Initiative” intended to “improve access by Hispanic Americans to educational and economic opportunities.” The order includes more taxpayer funds for charter and private schools, in addition to other economic and employment initiatives.
The hashtags #BoycottGoya, #GoyaFoods, and #Goyaway quickly trended following Unanue’s comments.
Democratic leaders urged a boycott of Goya Foods products on Twitter to express their displeasure after the CEO praised Trump. Former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, who also served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under the Obama administration, tweeted that Goya’s CEO is, “praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-NY) tweeted, “Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo.’”
Latino advocacy group, United We Dream, an Immigrant youth-focused organization created a petition to boycott the food company, slamming Unanue’s comments as “unacceptable,” saying it wouldn’t support those “who endorse and comply with a White Supremacist regime.”
On Friday, Unanue in an interview with Fox News responded to calls to boycott his company, saying he was “not apologizing,” and called the boycott movement “suppression of speech.”
“We were part of a commission called the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative and they called on us to be there to see how we could help opportunities within the economic and educational realm for prosperity among Hispanics and among the United States,” Unanue said on Fox & Friends.
He also noted that he accepted an invitation from the former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2012 to an event in Tampa, Florida, to promote her first lady’s healthy-eating initiative during Hispanic Heritage Month in 2011, and cited the double standard in the reactions of his visit with both presidents.
“You’re allowed to talk good or talk praise to one president but you’re not allowed to aid in economic and educational prosperity? And you make a positive comment and all of a sudden, it is not acceptable,” Unanue said. “So I’m not apologizing. Especially if you’re called by the president of the United States, you’re going to say, ‘No I’m sorry, I’m busy, no thank you?’ I didn’t say that to the Obamas and I didn’t say that to President Trump.”
In reaction to the #BoycottGoya boycott, Trump supporters have launched a “buy-cott,” including Hispanic republican lawmakers, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“Most of these people fronting about a #GOYABOYCOTT either don’t use Goya Foods anyways and most of the ones who do will cave by #NocheBuena,” Rubio said in a tweet along with an “I Love Goya” graphic.
A Goya supporter from Virginia named Casey Harper told FOX Business that he started a GoFundMe to raise funds to buy Goya products that he will then donate to food banks in the D.C. area. Currently, the GoFundMe has raised 109,412, surpassing its goal of $59,000.
“GOYA is facing a boycott that could cost the CEO his job. The liberal mob is coming for anyone who disagrees. Cancel culture at its worst. We need to have our voice heard!” the fundraising page reads. “What if we rise up to say no to cancel culture AND feed the hungry at the same time?”
Goya Food company describes itself as “the premier source for authentic Latino cuisine,” began as a family-run business founded in Manhattan in 1936 by Unanue’s grandparents, Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina who immigrated to the U.S. from Spain. The largest Hispanic-owned food company in the country, Goya has more than 500 employees in the state of New Jersey where its headquartered and approximately 4,000 worldwide.#BoycottGoya#GoyaFoods#Goyaway45Goya FoodsHispanic Prosperity InitiativeJulián CastroPresident TrumpRep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezRobert UnanueSen. Marco RubioSen. Ted CruzUnited We DreamWhite House