In what feels like seventy-five years ago but was actually July 2020, Goya’s CEO Robert Unanue faced public criticism after voicing his support of Donald Trump. “We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Donald Trump, who is a builder,” Unanue said at the announcement of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative executive order. “We have an incredible builder. And we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country — that we will continue to prosper and to grow.” The comments sparked a boycott of the Goya brand, despite its products being a staple for many Latinx Americans and anyone who eats beans, as Trump had a history of racist and xenophobic comments, and supported policies that targeted Hispanic immigrants.
Unanue was undeterred, appearing on Fox Business on Inauguration Day where he called Joe Biden’s presidential win “unverified.” His rhetoric intensified, stating, “There is a war coming, now that the president is leaving today, they’re still coming after the United States, the working class.”
In light of those comments, the Goya executive board has chosen to censure Unanue. According to the New York Post, the CEO can no longer speak to the press without the board’s permission. “Bob does not speak for Goya Foods when he speaks on TV,” Andy Unanue, board member and Robert’s nephew, told the Post. “The family has diverse views on politics, but politics is not part of our business. Our political point of views are irrelevant.” (Andy Unanue ran for Senate as a Republican in 2008.)
This political drama also appears to be a family drama. Goya was founded by Prudencio Unanue Ortiz in 1936, and in 1976, Joseph Unanue, Prudencio’s son and Andy’s father, took over as president. But in 2004, Joseph and Andy, who was serving as the company’s vice president, were fired by the board over allegations that Andy regularly showed up to work drunk. Among those making the decision were Joseph’s nephews, Robert and Francisco Unanue. They also said Joseph was “unilaterally setting the stage for his son Andrew to become his successor.” After the ouster, Robert became president.
It’s been hard to tell if the Goya boycott worked, as it inspired a “buycott” backlash, and Goya didn’t release sales numbers. But can we please get the writers behind Succession to make a Goya drama? This is juicy as hell.