The Real Reason People Are Boycotting Goya Foods

Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, is facing political backlash after its CEO praised Donald Trump (via NBC News). The president invited CEO Robert Unanue to be part of a commission to create economic opportunities for Latinx Americans. At a ceremony for the commission on Thursday, July 9, Trump signed an executive order expanding his Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, which includes support for charter schools and tax breaks for businesses that invest in low-income neighborhoods. Given a couple minutes to speak on the White House lawn, Unanue talked about his grandfather immigrating into the United States in 1904, and how in 1936 he built what became a multi-billion-dollar company out of the opportunities he found in "the most prosperous country in the world."

"We're all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder," Unanue added — words that prompted Latinx politicians and celebrities to call for a boycott of Goya products. Julian Castro, who was in President Barack Obama's cabinet, tweeted this after Unanue's statement, with the hashtag #Goyaway: "Bob Unanue is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products." 

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway musical Hamilton, had this to say on Twitter: "We learned to bake bread in this pandemic, we can learn to make our own adobo con pimienta. Bye."

The CEO of Goya foods set off a ton of backlash

Trump's policies haven't always supported Latinx Americans, as NBC News pointed out. His policies have separated parents from their children at the Mexican border and he's also threatened to deport so-called Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children (via American Immigration Council). "It's shameful and appalling that the president of Goya Foods is praising the most anti-Latino president in the history of our country," Latino Victory Fund CEO Nathalie Rayes told NBC News via email. 

But conservatives have rallied online to support Goya, creating a backlash of their own to the boycott backlash, which some are calling a "buy-cott" (via Fox Business). Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio showed his support for the brand, tweeting, "Most of these people fronting about a #GOYABOYCOTT either don't use @GoyaFoods anyways. And most of the ones who do will cave by #NocheBuena."

Casey Harper was looking to raise $10,000 on GoFundMe to "Support Trump & Feed the Hungry" with purchases of Goya products. Within four days, Harper had raised more than $280,000 from over 8,000 donors. "I'm not surprised we have raised so much because people are tired of having to walk on eggshells in political discourse," Harper told Fox Business. "Also, Americans are fundamentally generous people so a chance to feed the hungry and stand up to cancel culture was an easy win." In his own defense, Uananue said the Goya boycott showed the division in the U.S. that's "killing our nation." Uananue announced at the White House that Goya was donating 1 million cans of chickpeas and 1 million pounds of other food to food banks, as reported by NBC News.

Goya's CEO donates to conservative political causes

Unanue suggested that critics were holding him to a double standard while he doesn't play favorites with political parties. He had accepted a similar presidential invitation, in 2012, to participate in Michelle Obama's healthy eating initiative. "So you're allowed to talk good or to praise one president, but you're not allowed, when I was called to be part of this commission to aid in economic and education prosperity and you make positive comment, all of the sudden that's not acceptable," Uananue told Fox News (via The New York Times). "So I'm not apologizing for saying — and especially when you're called by the president of the United States, you're going to 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 Goya website touts the special praise Barack Obama gave the company in 2011 for its "commitment to the Hispanic community."

But Unanue's true political stripes can be found in his political donations, which tend to favor one specific political party. A search of the Federal Election Commission database reveals that right after Obama's praise and his participation in the first lady's Let's Move! Initiative, Unanue donated $370 to support Mitt Romney for president. More recently, in 2019, he gave $3,000 each to the Republican National Committee and WinRed, a conservative political action committee. No donations from Unanue to Trump have turned up yet on the database.