WASHINGTON, D.C. — As calls to boycott Goya Foods intensify, Goya President and CEO Bob Unanue went on Fox News Friday morning to defend his support of President Trump.
“It’s suppression of speech,” Unanue said when asked about the boycott. He said he had taken part in White House initiatives under both President Obama and President Trump, but only received backlash for the latter. “So you’re allowed to talk good or praise one president, but you’re not allowed- when I was called to be part of this commission to aid in economic and educational prosperity, and you make a positive comment, all of a sudden that’s not acceptable.”
“So I’m not apologizing for saying—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,” Unanue added.
Unanue’s non-apology comes after he spoke at a White House press conference on Thursday, saying, “We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump.”
The press conference was to announce President Trump’s signing of a new executive order, the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, which creates an advisory group to look at ways to increase educational and economic achievement for Latinos in the U.S.
After Unanue’s comments went viral on Thursday, fury erupted from the Latino community, who largely do not support Trump due to his history of anti-Latino policies and racist statements.
Goya Foods did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Latino Rebels. On Friday morning, they tweeted about their Goya Gives program, but had not tweeted anything relating to their CEO’s statement.
Goya continues to work for the prosperity & education of our country! #GOYAGIVES two million pounds of food to food banks across the nation who are in desperate need of food for families impacted by COVID19. pic.twitter.com/ZUdxRUnpBl
— Goya Foods (@GoyaFoods) July 10, 2020
Latinos and non-Latinos alike are continuing to express anger at the company as of Friday. Goya is such a ubiquitous and essential brand in Latino households, especially on the East Coast, that Unanue’s comments drew ire.
Many people, including celebrity chef Chrissy Teigen, joined politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Julián Castro in calling for a boycott:
FUUUUUUUCK. A shame. Don’t care how good the beans taste though. Bye bye. https://t.co/xV7U0UO8CY
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) July 10, 2020
No apology from @GoyaFoods will be sufficient to erase today’s comments.
If GOYA cares about the Hispanic/Latinx community (AND REALLY WANTS TO APOLOGIZE) then they better start by sending food to asylum seekers at the border and feed EVERY SINGLE immigrant Trump has detained.
— Juan Escalante (@JuanSaaa) July 9, 2020
— Rodrigo Camarena (@Rodrigo4NYC) July 10, 2020
2020 has given us a new type of spices discourse !!!!! Old are the battles with white folk not using spices ! New(not new actually) is the battle to seize the means of production and make our own spices!!!!! Down with corporate spices!!! Down with Goya!
— pupusas y maté (@gatx_negrx) July 10, 2020
Despite his administration’s racist comments and policies, Trump holds some support from Latinos going into the 2020 presidential election. A recent poll from Quinnipiac shows that over 30 percent of Latino voters plan to vote for President Trump this fall.
Biden is polling lower than either President Obama or Hillary Clinton in the last two presidential elections with Latino voters.
National @QuinnipiacPoll By Race:
Trump 50% (-7 Vs 2016 Exit Polls)
Biden 42% (+5)
Biden 82% (-6)
Trump 9% (+1)
Biden 57% (-9)
Trump 31% (+3)
— Political Polls (@PpollingNumbers) June 18, 2020
The president’s 2020 campaign is in full swing, and that was evident this week both in his meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the White House, who also vouched for Trump, to the anger of many Latinos, and by this latest announcement.
Multiple members of Latinos For Trump, part of the president’s re-election campaign for 2020, were also present at Thursday’s announcement. Those present included Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of Job Creators Network, Mario Rodriguez, a founding member of the Hispanic 100, and Lourdes Aguirre, a Miami businesswoman.
At the meeting Thursday, Unanue emphasized his family’s Spanish heritage, and described his family’s immigration story as a white, European story. Unanue downplayed his family’s history in Puerto Rico.
“My grandfather left Spain at 18 years old from — on a steamship in 1904 with a lot of other European people who — the economy over there was not the most prosperous in — in the world. So they came to the Unit- — he came to the United States through Puerto Rico,” Unanue is quoted as saying in the White House transcript of the meeting held before the Thursday Rose Garden press conference.
Goya Foods’ yearly revenue is $1.5 billion, and the company has expanded by courting non-Latino customers. The Unuane family is one of the richest Spanish-American families in the U.S. The Associated Press reported that “Unanue has been a longtime donor to Republican political causes, with the exception of contributions to New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat.”
Ana Lucía Murillo is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. and the 2020 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She tweets from @analuciamur.