Robert Unanue’s praise for President Trump leaves Latinos feeling betrayed by Goya Foods

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“It is the most recognized Hispanic brand in the United States,” she said.

Over the years, companies representing Goya have approached her about a possible partnership, according to Marquez-Sharpnack, who is considered a “brand influencer”.

But Goya would only compensate her with her products, which she found “discouraging” because she wanted to associate with a Hispanic brand.

“I’ve never worked with them because I can’t pay the bills with frijoles,” said Marquez-Sharpnack, who nonetheless continued to recommend Goya products in his recipes.

But she is now among the many Latinos who say they will not buy Goya products after Goya CEO Robert Unanue appeared on Thursday at the White Garden Rose Garden and congratulated President Donald Trump.

“I’m definitely looking for alternatives that I would recommend over Goya,” said Marquez-Sharpnack, a native Texan who now lives in Colorado.

Goya’s CEO compares Trump to his grandfather

Unanue’s appearance at the Washington ceremony announcing the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative sparked outrage on social media.

The hashtags #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya exploded. Prominent Hispanic leaders have called for a boycott.

Unanue compared Trump to his grandfather, a Spanish immigrant who founded the company in 1936.

“We are all really blessed … to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said Thursday.

“That’s what my grandfather did. He came to this country to build, grow, prosper. We have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president. “

The fact that Unanue would compliment Trump has angered many, especially because the president is unpopular among Hispanics.

“Trump said that the Latinos, or the Mexicans in particular, bring drugs, are rapists, are criminals and that (Unanue) stays there and says that Trump reminds him of his grandfather… It goes against of everything I think we should be doing for our own community, “said Marquez-Sharpnac.

Fernando Ferrer, former president of the Bronx borough and candidate for mayor of New York, noted that “Goya is a brand that has always been synonymous and remembered in the time of Puerto Ricans and Cubans and even the first Dominicans to come to New York. ”

“It was Goya,” said Ferrer, who is of Puerto Rican descent. “My wife is very loyal to the brand:” No. I only want Goya this. I only want Goya this. Now, it makes it very, very difficult when a CEO does these things. But they have always had this tone of deafness towards their own community. “

He will not apologize for congratulating the President

Calls for the boycott intensified on Friday after Unanue told “Fox & Friends” that he was “not apologizing” for praising Trump. He called the boycott movement “suppression of speech”. He noted that he had accepted an invitation from Michelle Obama in 2012 to an event promoting the former first lady’s healthy eating initiative.

“You have the right to speak well or hire a president but” hire another and “all of a sudden it’s not acceptable,” he told Fox News.

“If you are called by the President of the United States, you will say,” No, I’m sorry, I’m busy, no thanks? I did not say that to the Obamas and I did not say that to President Trump. ”

A Goya spokesperson said that Unanue’s appearance was to announce the donation of one million cans of Goya chickpeas and one million other food items to US food banks to support the Trump’s initiative. Unanue said Goya wants to help families injured by the coronavirus pandemic.

Goya did not comment on the boycott calls.

Some Hispanics support Goya

“I don’t think so (Goya executives) really understand how supportive the entire community has been for this endeavor, “said Ferrer.

“So yes, you give a little charity, that’s good. But there is much more than maintaining your relationship with a community that has supported and sponsored you for decades. ”

Ferrer said he would turn to other Hispanic food brands – despite his wife’s loyalty to Goya.

“I do the shopping, by the way,” he said.

But some Hispanics are by the side of Goya.

Jorge Masvidal, a mixed martial arts fighter of Cuban and Peruvian descent, tweeted early Saturday: “The actions of @GoyaFoods speak louder than the #woke crowd. My people are not influenced by those who do not know it. They have been helping our people when we need it most. “

Goya has “many crosses”

Goya, based in Secaucus, New Jersey, is the country’s largest Hispanic company. He is well known for the slogan “Si c’est Goya. That must be good”. The company’s website said it offers 2,500 food products from the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Central America and South America.

“Goya has become the predominant brand in all supermarkets, especially for Latinos,” said John Stanton, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chef José Andrés and Others Criticize Goya CEO for Supporting Trump

“They had a certain level of authenticity and before you know it, they had a lot of crossovers. Many Anglos wanted to make half decent Hispanic food and saw it as the choice, the product to buy. ”

But Trump has been repeatedly criticized for attacking immigrants from Mexico and Central America as criminals and what critics have called his indifference in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“It’s hard to believe that someone who is the main market will be exactly the community that Trump has abused, that this business will be praised,” said Stanton.

“The question is, who won? Unanue’s financial strength or its Hispanic past. It seems to me that it was his financial past. He is an entrepreneur and a businessman and, in my opinion, a very good businessman. But he seems to have sold outside. “

CNN’s David Goldman contributed to this report.

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