After Goya's CEO Praised Trump, the Company Deserves the Boycott

There's no ethical consumption under capitalism but sucking up to Trump is where I draw the line.
July 10, 2020, 10:40pm
Goya is Canceled
Credit: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images


Friendship with Goya is over.

The CEO of the foods brand, Bob Unanue, stopped by the White House on Thursday for the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative event. During a televised press conference held in the Rose Garden, Unanue praised President Trump, saying, "We are all truly blessed… to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder. We have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president." Not satisfied with the traitorous bootlicking he had already laid upon Trump, Unanue also compared Trump to his grandfather, Don Prudencio Unanue, a Spanish immigrant who founded Goya foods in 1936. The food brand is now one of the largest in the world, and a staple in pantries from Mexico to Puerto Rico to Thailand to India.

But, unfortunately Goya is canceled, even if their beans are dank as hell. Sorry to the signers of the Harper's Bazaar letter.

Latinos aren't devoid of conservative politics or even support for President Trump—who among his greatest hits has called Mexicans "rapists," spouted racist vitriol and instigated xenophobic policies, and detained immigrants at the border under dangerous, unsanitary conditions. Plus, the Unanue family are worth $1.1 billion, and therefore Unanue's ass-kissing is shocking, but not surprising, given the number of billionaires backing Trump's re-election campaign, their wealth continuing to climb while the rest of us anxiously count the days until our paychecks clear.

Unanue is clearly a sniveling weasel willing to throw his own under the bus socially and politically while taking their money. He once told Forbes, "We like to say we don't market to Latinos, we market as Latinos." Well, it's safe to say his recent speech was Bad Marketing to Latinos, Bob.

The internet blew up after news broke of the Goya betrayal, with many vowing never to allow a single savory olive, sprinkle of sazón, splash of coconut milk, grain of rice, or sip of mango nectar from the Goya product line pass their lips or their frying pans again. #BoycottGoya has been trending on Twitter, and plenty of former devotees have voiced their disappointment and disillusionment with the company. The boycott even reached elected officials, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting about googling an adobo recipe, implying her personal breakup with Goya. No matter how delicious Goya products are, the treachery cannot go unpunished. Latinos deserve better. Everyone deserves better. The beans aren't worth our souls!

Goya has been in Latinx and other POC kitchens for generations at this point. As a Mexican-American pursuing the "international foods" aisles of grocery stores, I often pick up packets and cans of Goya products because that's what I saw my mom do, and I'm sure what she saw her mother do. We inherit recipes, but we also inherit brands. But as social injustice rages on, and we see fresh horrors lobbied every day against Black, brown, Asian, and Indigenous people across the diaspora, well, who needs those jars of sofrito?

Unsurprisingly, Trump supporters jumped on the anti-boycott train, making #BuyGoya a trending hashtag on Twitter and really showing us all by… seasoning their food? Unanue also went on—you guessed it—Fox News on Friday to respond to the backlash, with Unanue insisting that he and the Fox anchors are "friends" to one another. Fox is a safe space, after all… well, at least for people sidling up to a blowhard president who tweets his support of white supremacists! Unanue refused to apologize for his remarks, and called the boycott a "suppression of speech."

Unanue may want his food to be free of political questioning, that's just not acceptable in this era. Food is political. What you choose to buy and eat has political power; and food often speaks to larger stories of migration, acculturation, appropriation, environmental issues, and other social issues. If it means standing for something and outlining our expectations of those with political sway (also not lining the pocket of a sycophantic dork), then we should all be flexing that buying power. Brands can be replaced.

Goya is definitely that ex who was a champion in the sack but turned out to be sleeping with your nemesis. Sucks to lose them, but ultimately we're better off: We still have La Costeña, El Mexicano, Herdez, Knorr, Maggie and other tasty brands looking out for our seasoning needs—but we'll be keeping an eye on them, too.

Alex Zaragoza is a senior staff writer at VICE.