Responding to growing community criticism about the placement of a prominent Goya logo at the base of the new Roberto Clemente statue at Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx, the company’s public relations director defended Goya’s decision, saying that Clemente’s own son told him to not do anything to change the logo.
Rafael Toro spoke to Latino Rebels earlier today via telephone about the new statue. Referring to the Clemente family’s long relationship with Goya and his own personal friendship with Roberto Clemente, Jr., Toro said that the Clemente family supported the company’s decision to place a large company logo at the statue’s base.
“Roberto Clemente, Jr. told me personally last week, ‘Do not change the logo,'” Toro said, as he explained the company’s history with the Clementes. “In fact, when I told [Roberto, Jr.] about the idea for a statue, he told me, ‘If I had to pick a company, it would be Goya.'”
“The Clemente family is very happy with how the statue turned out,” Toro said.
The new statue has been the subject of controversy within New York’s Puerto Rican community, especially on social media. The initial response was so strong last weekend that Latino Rebels initiated a petition, asking Goya to reconsider the logo’s placement, given that the statue’s base had also contained a factual error that needed to get fixed. Toro acknowledged the criticism, saying that “everybody is entitled to their opinion,” but he also said that “the overwhelming response has been very positive, by the state, the park, and the community.” He also confirmed that the factual error is in the process of being corrected.
Toro insisted that the placement of the company’s logo did not turn the statue into an ad.
“It was never intended to be an ad,” Toro said. “We aren’t tying it to a marketing or sales campaign. It is not tied to any of our products.”
He later added: “We wanted people to know that we did this, and that we were proud that we did it. We did it with the best of intentions. Yes, we know that there is a logo and that the logo is prominent, and we’re proud of that.”
When asked if he was aware of any campaigns directed against the company, Toro said that he did not know of any organized efforts. However, as we were about to publish our interview with Toro, Latino Rebels received a letter from Boricuas for a Positive Image directed to Robert Inanue, president of Goya foods. Here is an embed of the letter:
Boricuas for a Positive Image: Letter to Goya Foods about Roberto Clemente Statue by Latino Rebels
BFPI also issued a press release:
Boricuas For a Positive Image is joining the growing voices protesting the “Goya” Ad on the recently dedicated Roberto Clemente Statue on the grounds of Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx.
Many community groups and politicians are distressed by the Ad on the Statue, which diminishes the image of Roberto Clemente, associating the work of art with corporate largesse.
BFPI has mailed a letter to Goya asking that the Goya advertisement on the plaque of the Statue be removed. Lucky Rivera, the President of BFPI, states the ad “insults the Puerto Rican and Latino community, and no amount of corporate welfare gives them the right to place an ad on the statue of our beloved hero.” Previously, BFPI and many of its supporters were instrumental in leading the campaign against Coors and its placement of the Puerto Rican flag on the Coors beer can.
“If we do not hear from them soon, and I mean by Friday, July 12, we will start actions against Goya and step up our commitment to having the offensive ad removed,” says Mr. Rivera.
The press packet contained this flyer as well:
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