‘I’m not apologizing…’
(Liberty Headlines) The CEO of food company Goya is facing an uproar over his praise for President Donald Trump, but he said that he won’t back down.
Some Latino families said they are purging their pantries of the products and scrambling to find alternatives to the beloved beans, seasoning and other products that have long been fixtures in their cooking.
But the controversy is also drawing attention to the mixed political sentiments of Latinos in the U.S.
Many of them oppose Trump.
At the same time, the president has strong support among some people of Cuban and Venezuelan descent because of his tough stance against the authoritarian leaders of those countries.
He has been working recently to court Latino voters who could swing the vote in states such as Arizona and Florida. On Wednesday, he welcomed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House, calling Mexico a cherished partner.
Standing beside Trump in the Rose Garden on Thursday, Goya CEO Robert Unanue declared: “We are truly blessed, at the same time, to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder.”
Almost immediately, #BoycottGoya, #GoyaFoods and #Goyaway began trending on social media platforms.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “Hamilton” writer Lin-Manuel Miranda joined the boycott calls.
The United Farm Workers posted a video on Twitter contrasting Trump’s words deriding some Latinos as criminals and rapists against images of them working hard in the fields.
Lorgia Ortega, a retired payroll manager in Los Angeles who regularly puts about 10 Goya products in her shopping cart, said she called her four sisters when she saw Unanue’s comments on Twitter.
“Does he realize who the people are that are buying his products?” said Ortega, who immigrated from El Salvador in 1974. “This president has insulted us so much.”
Ortega said her children, cousin and her daughter’s mother-in-law all plan to stop buying Goya products, even if they don’t know yet how to replace them.
“I’m going to go to the Latino market and whatever is next to them, I’m going to start trying that out,” Ortega said.
Goya was founded in Manhattan in 1936 by Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina, immigrants from Spain.
The company calls itself the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, listing 2,500 products including seasonings, cooking oils, beans, frozen products and snacks. Their offerings are ubiquitous in grocery stores across the U.S., sometimes taking up their own entire aisle.
Unanue stood by his words during a Friday appearance on “Fox & Friends”: I’m not apologizing for saying — and especially when you’re called by the president of the United States — you’re gonna 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.”
The grandson of the company’s founder, Unanue has been a longtime donor to Republican political causes, with the exception of contributions to New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat.
Adriana Waterston, senior vice president of Horowitz Research, which specializes in Hispanic consumers, said Goya routinely emerges among the most trusted brands in the studies she conducts for clients.
She said that speaks to the potential for a deep sense of betrayal among Goya customers, though the brand’s popularity will also make any boycott effort difficult.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.