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Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue praised President Donald Trump during an event at the White House on Thursday as a “leader” and a “builder” like his immigrant grandfather, sparking widespread condemnation online and calls for a boycott of the Hispanic-themed company’s products.
“We are all truly blessed, at the same time, to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder. And that’s what my grandfather did. He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper,” Unanue said.
“And so we have an incredible builder and we pray,” he added. “We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”
Unanue’s expression of gratitude to the president — as well as the country that has allowed his grandfather’s brand to flourish — came as Trump signed an executive order in which the administration pledges to bolster Hispanics’ access to economic and educational opportunities.
Nevertheless, his praise drew scorn and sparked anger on social media, with many calling for boycotts of the company and its products.
Early Friday, “Goya” remained a top trending term on social media platforms like Twitter, with the hashtags #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya leading.
The critics including Hispanic-American lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Democratic presidential contender Julian Castro.
“Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,’” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling “how to make your own Adobo” https://t.co/YOScAcyAnC
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 10, 2020
Castro said Americans should now “think twice” before buying Goyo products.
“[email protected] has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations. Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway,” he posted on Twitter.
.@GoyaFoods has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations.
Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway https://t.co/lZDQlK6TcU
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 9, 2020
“It’s shameful and appalling that the president of Goya Foods is praising the most anti-Latino president in the history of our country,” Nathalie Rayes, president and CEO of the PAC Latino Victory, said in a statement. “We call for a boycott of Goya Foods products and anyone who stands with Donald Trump and against our community.”
Others online expressed similar sentiments.
Same. No to Goya forever. Trump is a menace.
— Mary Engel (@FaithRiver) July 9, 2020
No more Goya brands in my house.
— Mary Huddleston (@MaryHud38059040) July 9, 2020
Ok I’m done with your products.
— WeSee (@Tanja2024) July 9, 2020
Oh, wow. #Goya is off the shopping list forever.
— 🌊Really_Stable_Snowflake❄️ (@Mcdonald5Meg) July 9, 2020
Nope. No Walmart, no Hobby Lobby, no Home Depot, no Goya, no Chick Fil-A, no Papa Johns…
Who else? I know there are more…
— Mary J. Wishes Ed McGinty Was Her Dad 🥁🥁🥁 (@Mary_Js_ART) July 9, 2020
Interestingly, Goya Foods was honored by then-President Barack Obama in 2011 for serving the Hispanic community, the Washington Post adds.
And others defended and praised the brand as well.
Hey white leftist who pretends not to be racist, stop trying to cancel a Hispanic man because you think his vote belongs to you. It doesn’t. Sit down.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) July 9, 2020
I’ll buy double.
— Duchess of Liberty 🇺🇸 AnnaD (@AnnaDsays) July 9, 2020
I always thought you were smarter than this, Julian. So, either you believe what you said — which is verifiably untrue — or you’re saying it because you think those listening to you are stupid. Which is it? What happened to you, man?
— Joe Pags Pagliarulo (@JoeTalkShow) July 9, 2020
They will survive without you.
— Angie (@angiewhyer) July 10, 2020
If anything this will make people buy more of their products. Democrats seem to not understand the Trump affect on business and the stock market. My portfolio loves you @realDonaldTrump !
— Trevor Lahey (@RandyBoeBandy) July 10, 2020
Goya Foods is an international brand launched in the U.S. in 1936 by Prudencio Unanue Ortiz and wife Carolina. The brand specializes in Hispanic and Latin American cuisine. The company is headquartered in Jersey City, N.J., and bills itself as “the premier source for authentic Latino cuisine.”
The brand was launched when the couple opened a small store in Manhattan.
“Driven by the belief that there was a growing consumer market for high-quality, fresh-tasting, Latin foods, the Unanues catered to local Hispanic families by distributing authentic Spanish products including olives, olive oil, and sardines,” the company’s website notes.
The company is reportedly worth around $1.1 billion, Forbes reported. It has 26 facilities across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Spain, employing thousands of people.
Unanue has said that his family is proud to become “part of the culture” in Latino communities.
“They say, ‘I remember your slogans, I remember that you were in my neighborhood, you were part of my life growing up,’” Unanue said in an interview with NBC News in 2016, in reference to conversations with people through the years. “That’s what makes us more than just a food company.”
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