MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — The hashtag #Goyaway is trending on social media one day after Robert Unanue, CEO of Goya Foods, appeared in the White House Rose Garden and praised President Donald Trump.
“We are all truly blessed … to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said during the Rose Garden speech. “We have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president.”
The fact that Unanue would associate with Trump was sufficient to anger some of America’s most prominent Hispanic leaders. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested in a tweet that she’d boycott Goya.
Goya is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro acknowledged Goya’s “staple” status in Latino households, but he encouraged people to reconsider buying Goya after Unanue’s White House appearance.
.@GoyaFoods 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. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway https://t.co/lZDQlK6TcU
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 9, 2020
President Trump is unpopular among Hispanic Americans. Hispanics favor Vice President Joe Biden over Trump in the race for president by a 36 percentage-point margin, according to the latest New York Times/Siena College poll. Trump began his campaign by criticizing Mexicans for being “rapists” and bringing drugs into the United States. He has spent much of his presidency trying to build a wall along the southern US border and enacted a policy that separated children from parents when they were apprehended at the border.
Unanue was invited to the White House as part of President Trump’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, an executive order aimed at improving Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities.
In his brief remarks, Unanue announced Goya would donate 1 million cans of Goya chickpeas and 1 million other food products to American food banks. He said the company wanted to help families hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are very proud to give back to this nation, to the food banks which are going to be needing some of that important food,” he said.
A Goya spokesman said the purpose of Unanue’s White House appearance was to announce the donation and support Trump’s initiative. Goya did not comment on the boycott calls.
Goya was founded in 1936 by Unanue’s grandfather, who immigrated from Spain. It remains a privately held, family-owned business.
(©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)