Goya Foods faced swift backlash supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Latino leaders after CEO Robert Unanue praised President Trump on Thursday — but a defiant Unanue defended his free speech rights and refused to apologize.
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Unanue said at an event in the Rose Garden at the White House, where the president signed an executive order on the “White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.”
Twitter exploded moments later, with users reminding Unanue of Trump’s history of controversial comments, such as calling some Mexican illegal immigrants “rapists” in 2015, and hardline policies toward illegal immigration from Mexico.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” Trump said at Trump Tower when he announced his candidacy for president that June.
“Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,’” tweeted AOC, who is of Puerto Rican descent, referring to one of Goya’s popular seasonings.
“Get yourself friends like these: this tweet wasn’t up for TWO MINUTES when my friend hit me up with the recipe. (Their note: ‘the ginger is controversial, but worth it’),” she added, retweeting a friend’s adobo recipe.
“@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,” tweeted Julian Castro, HUD secretary in the Obama administration and a former Democratic presidential candidate, who is of Mexican descent.
But not all Latino public figures were on board.
“Creepy cancel culture will find #BoycottGoya difficult & not supported by most Latinos-certainly not many over 21. Company is intertwined in Hispanic life. In urging Latino unity, my dad used to say the only real difference between we hispanics was the color of our (Goya) beans,” tweeted TV personality Geraldo Rivera, whose father was Puerto Rican.
Unanue had also announced Thursday that the family-owned food giant was donating a million cans of chickpeas and another million pounds of food to help relieve shortages caused by the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
A day later, he told Fox News he had no intention of apologizing.
“We were part of a commission called the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative and they called on us to be there to see how we could help opportunities within the economic and educational realm for prosperity among Hispanics and among the United States,” Unanue said.
Unanue called the boycott, which was trending on Twitter, “suppression of speech,” and noted that he had previously been invited to the White House by the Obama administration during Hispanic Heritage Month.
“So, you’re allowed to talk good or to praise one president, but you’re not allowed to aid in economic and educational prosperity? And you make a positive comment and all of a sudden, it is not acceptable,” Unanue asked.
Goya was founded in Manhattan in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife, Carolina, immigrants from Spain, and calls itself the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US.
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