Many Caribbean people in the United States have relied on products from Goya Foods as an alternative to some familiar food staples that are hard to find on American shelves. While recognized primarily as a brand that makes Hispanic ready made foods, frozen foods, and seasonings, we have all used Goya coconut milk in a pinch.
I was surprised to read, and then HEAR the president of Goya Foods say the following:
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder, and that’s what my grandfather did. He came to this country to build to grow to prosper. And so, we have an incredible builder, and we pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country, that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”Robert Unanue, current CEO of Goya Foods, July 2020
Turns out, I wasnt the only one surprised.
It is no secret that Donald Trump has not been a friend to the immigrant community in the United States. During his campaign, one of the pillars of his agenda was to close borders, build a wall, and seek out “illegal” immigrants and deport them.
Related: Donald Trumps Executive Order
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.Donald Trump, June 2015
Once elected, he doubled down on his rhetoric, and got to work to make sure that immigrants not only felt unwelcome in the United States, but also afraid.
His rhetoric created a dangerous environment for immigrants in this country, and Latino people had to endure their own type of “stop and frisk” as well as racial profiling by police.
We have people coming into the country or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.Donald Trump, May 2018
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, his administration has launched an attack on immigrant students. Under the the Trump administration’s new directive that requires in-person classes for international students, many foreign students would be required to return to their home countries if the University is only offering online or hybrid classes. While more than 50% of the approximately one million students who will be affected come from China or India, there are still significant numbers coming from Latin America and the Caribbean – many of whom have already paid for school and have found shelter in America during the pandemic.
Yesterday, American institutions like Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sued the Trump administration in federal court in an attempt to block the directive that would invalidate foreign students’ visas – and today – the maker of foods marketed to immigrant families is praising that same administration.
The same Robert Unanue introduced President Barack Obama at a reception at the White House in September of 2011 for Hispanic Heritage Month.
It is my great pleasure and privilege to present to you the President of the United States who by being the first African American, represents the diversity that makes this country so unique and the greatest nation in the world, ladies and gentlemen, President Barack Obama.Robert Unanue, current CEO of Goya Foods, September 2011
He presented President Obama with a copy of his book in honor of the 75th anniversary of the company, and stated:
The United States has welcomed immigrants from all parts of the world, and we, as Hispanics, have embraced our responsibility to work to make it a better country and contribute to its ongoing development and in the process, become agents of change, encouragement and inspiration.Robert Unanue, current CEO of Goya Foods, September 2011 at the Obama White House during a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month.
This is in stark contrast to what Donald Trump says about immigrants and his administration’s policies that affect immigrant families. We know that with many polls favoring his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, he must find a large group to support him, and he is beginning to court the Hispanic community. Conservative groups and right-wing news outlets have latched on to the quote as a sign of the Hispanic community’s solidarity with Trump, and ultimately – their vote in November.
As the largest producer of Hispanic foods in the United States, a lot of families rely on the food producer for not only day to day items like black beans and other dry goods, but also comfort foods and seasonings. On this blog, I talk about food being one of the easiest ways to connect our families to culture.
While I am not Latino, I still feel betrayed by Unanue’s praise of Trump. I find little comfort in the fact that he was friendly with President Obama, and worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on the MiPlato (MyPlate) Initiative as part of her Let’s Move! campaign.
In light of this, will you continue to buy Goya products? How did watching this make you feel? Join the discussion on Facebook.