#LatinoRebels10: From 2020, When GOYA Became MAGA

May 18, 2021
10:34 PM

Illustration by Alex Charner

For this tenth and final installment of #LatinoRebels10 in celebration of Latino Rebels’ 10th anniversary, we look back to a story from 2020 and the Goya debacle. For more installments, click here.

In the middle of a pandemic, the CEO of Goya Foods forever made his brand a permanent part of the culture wars during a July 9, 2020 visit to the White House.

In our 10 years online, we have seen outrage but what Bob Unanue said that day (twice) was one of the most intense days we have ever seen. Maybe it was because Goya is seen as an iconic Latino brand. but it goes without saying that Unanue’s Trumpian politics didn’t sit well—no matter how much the MAGA crowd suddenly discovered frozen tostones and black bean soup.

Still, boycotting Goya was now part of “cancel culture,” and Unanue made sure to milk it like a bad batch of sofrito.

Goya CEO Won’t Apologize or Acknowledge Viral Boycott Against Company

But if anyone followed Goya in the past, it is a company that has been known to step into it when it didn’t have to. A few examples:

GOYA Foods Issues Statement About Logo Placement on Roberto Clemente Statue

Goya Foods Stops Sponsorship of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade

In addition, our family at Latino USA dug a little deeper into Goya’s past:

And as our founder wrote last year about the White House visit:

…Goya created a community that was deeply loyal to its products because of the myth in a majority-white America that they were “ours” and therefore also saw the company as a cultural institution; that is why the backlash has been so raw. Unanue, and Goya, misread how his words at that White House would affect the mythology the brand has spent years building and underestimated the deep connection —whether good or bad— that Goya has to the world of Latinidad in the United States.

It’s almost as if this white Spanish family never really saw U.S. Latinos as a community they served, rather than one they marketed to and profited off of.

That’s the real issue.