You probably have a can of Goya beans or jar of their Adobo seasoning in your pantry right now, as the brand is the self-described largest Hispanic-owned food company in the country. But a boycott of the brand, which began when CEO spoke alongside President Trump at the White House on Thursday, could threaten that status.
“We all truly blessed, at the same time, to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Robert Unanue said in the Rose Garden. Unanue is the grandson of Don Pudencio and Carolina Unanue, Spanish immigrants who founded the company in Manhattan in 1936. Ironically, they are likely the kind of people Trump would seek to keep out of America.
Goya is huge because of its popularity among those same people. Their products are so ubiquitous that grocery store aisle signs often use “Goya” as a category on par with “Dairy” or “Coffee.” Their products are beloved, unlike Trump. A Gallup analysis of recent polls found just 26 percent of Hispanics approved of the job he was doing as president.
Trump has given Hispanic Americans plenty of reasons to detest him. The abhorrent separation of Central American children from their parents, racist accusation that an Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage couldn’t be impartial, and his contention in his campaign kickoff speech that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Unanue’s fawning over Trump isn’t just a head-scratcher based on his family history. It also has the makings of a PR disaster, angering as it did the core constituency for his brand.
Politicians were quick to join the chorus of voices using #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway hashtags, which quickly started to trend on Twitter.
In response, Unanue doubled down, asserting on Fox News that the boycott amounted to “suppression of speech” and not simply Americans exercising their rights in a free marketplace.
“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 said.
This is argument is partially undercut by the fact that Unanue is not an apolitical person. He has, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, donated to Democratic senator Robert Menendez in the past, but it’s been ten years since he last supported a Democrat. Unanue’s most recent donations were a pair of $3,000 checks written to the Republican National Committee less than a year ago.
In other words, Unanue has picked a side, so he shouldn’t be surprised when those on the other side don’t want to give him their money. That’s just business.