Prominent Latino voices call for Goya Foods boycott after CEO praises Trump

CEO Robert Unanue doubled down, calling the boycott a "suppression of speech."

July 10, 2020, 11:34 AM

Goya Foods, the New Jersey-based producer of many canned foods that have become staples in American homes, is facing calls for a boycott from prominent Latino voices after its CEO Robert Unanue lauded President Donald Trump.

"We are so blessed to have you as our leader," Unaue told Trump on Thursday at their public meeting, part of the president's effort to court Latino supporters through a measure dubbed the "White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative."

Trump has previously called Mexican immigrants "rapists" who are "bringing crime" and "bringing drugs" to the U.S. His administration also has faced outrage for policies that have separated immigrant children from their parents at the southern border.

Given the president's past rhetoric on Latino issues and immigration, the backlash faced by Goya Foods has been swift.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump listens as Robert Unanue, of Goya Foods, speaks during a roundtable meeting with Hispanic leaders in the Cabinet Room, July 9, 2020, in Washington.
President Donald Trump listens as Robert Unanue, of Goya Foods, speaks during a roundtable meeting with Hispanic leaders in the Cabinet Room, July 9, 2020, in Washington.
Evan Vucci/AP

The hashtags #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway began trending on Twitter Thursday evening, with everyone from politicians to musicians calling for Americans to veer away from the company's goods.

Goya Foods "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," Julian Castro, a former Democratic presidential candidate and an Obama administration Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said on Twitter.

"Americans should think twice before buying their products," he added.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., added, "Oh look, it's the sound of me Googling 'how to make your own Adobo.'" She went on to share a simple adobo recipe with her followers in a follow-up tweet.

Even Lin-Manuel Miranda, director and star of the Broadway smash-hit "Hamilton," weighed-in, writing, "We learned to bake bread in this pandemic, we can learn to make our own adobo con pimienta. Bye."

Democratic candidate Joe Biden led Trump by 39% with Hispanics nationally, according to a June New York Times/Siena College poll.

Goya Foods did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on Friday.

Unanue, however, doubled down on his comments in an interview with Fox News on Friday, saying he won't apologize and that's he's also praised former President Barack Obama.

"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 educational prosperity and you make positive comment, all of the sudden that's not acceptable?" he told Fox News. "So I'm not apologizing."

"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?'" he added. "I didn't say that to the Obamas, and I didn't say that to President Trump."

Unanue slammed the boycott calls as a "suppression of speech." He said he previously worked with Michelle Obama to help include Goya in nutritional guidance to minority communities.

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway also responded to the criticism of the CEO on the same show Friday morning, saying, "it's a shame that people see politics in every single thing."

ABC News' Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.

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