WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Goya Foods is facing a swift backlash after its CEO praised President Donald Trump at White House event.
Goya was founded in Manhattan in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina, immigrants from Spain. The company calls itself the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States.
Robert Unanue, a grandson and now Goya CEO, spoke at a Rose Garden event announcing a “Hispanic Prosperity Initiative” on Thursday.
“We all truly blessed, at the same time, to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said standing at a podium beside Trump.
Almost immediately, #BoycottGoya, #GoyaFoods and #Goyaway began trending on social media platforms like Twitter, with scorn coming seemingly from all directions, including some big political names.
Many were angered by the support, citing Trump's history of derogatory comments and harsh policies toward Hispanics, most notably, the administration's policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Former presidential candidate Julian Castro was among those to take to Twitter, saying Unanue praised someone who villainizes Goya's customer base.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said she would learn to make from scratch some of the Latin cuisine that Goya makes.
Goya did not immediately comment.
According to the Pew Research Center, 13.3% of eligible voters in the U.S. this year are Latino, a record high.
Trump has been working hard recently to court Latino voters, who could swing the vote in states such as Arizona. On Wednesday, he welcomed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House with lofty language, calling Mexico a cherished partner. Trump’s tone was in stark contrast from when he kicked off his 2016 presidential campaign by referring to Mexicans as “rapists” and railed against migrants entering the United States illegally.
Goya recently donated thousands of pounds of food to families in the Bronx and Harlem who have been affected by COVID-19. The company also made a big donation to a public school in Queens.