Goya, a popular food brand known as the premier source for authentic Latinx food, has been trending on Twitter since yesterday — but not in a good way. After Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue spoke at the White House Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon and praised President Donald Trump, loyal customers of the brand created the hashtag #Goyaway.
During a gathering for the launch of the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative on Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order to expand “efforts across all the federal government to deliver educational and economic opportunity for Hispanic Americans.” Trump honored Unanue, whose grandfather founded Goya, by appointing him one of the leaders of the initiative.
"We are all truly blessed 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, and so we have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president,” Unanue said during his speech. Trump, who was standing several feet away from him, seemed pleased with the praise and thanked him afterwards.
This led to particular online backlash against the company from their supporters in the Latinx community. Goya Foods is the largest Hispanic food company in the United States and was founded in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina, who both came from Spain. It has always been considered a family company and a staple brand in many Latinx households.
Despite the fact that Unanue announced that the corporation would be donating 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and a million pounds of food to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic during that same speech, customers have responded to the CEO’s pro-Trump remarks by promising to stop buying the company's products altogether.
Julián Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, tweeted his disappointment and called for people to boycott, saying, “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.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also quote-tweeted Unanue’s comments, saying, “Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo.’”
Major constituents in the community have rebuked Unanue's speech, too. United We Dream (UWD), an organization that serves young immigrants, also tweeted that it supports boycotting Goya for working with the White House, and started a petition for people to sign. "We don't support companies who endorse and comply with a White Supremacist regime. Under capitalism, know the power of the dollar in their eyes. We're using it to make a statement," UWD said.
This response comes as little surprise given Trump's track record with attacking the Latinx community. The president began his 2016 campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists” and saying that they bring drugs into the United States, and has spent the last several years working to build a wall at the Southern United States border, perpetuating heavy anti-immigrant rhetoric. In addition, he’s continued to separate children from their parents at the border.
For Goya’s once-loyal customers who have been affected by Trump’s cruel policies and attacks on the Latinx community, there’s no way to support the brand now in good conscience. Refusing to buy Goya products, however, is an act of protest against the harm done by the administration.