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Amidst a global pandemic, a boycott over the iconic brand Goya Foods gained unusual attention after the company’s CEO Robert Unanue threw his support behind former president Donald Trump. A photo of Ivanka Trump holding a can of beans went viral and Latino leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Lin-Manuel Miranda took to social media to advocate for a boycott of Goya products. For many Latinos and Latinas, Goya is more than a can of beans—it’s a badge of identity.

But this wasn’t the first time that the food giant got caught in political turmoil.

In 1998, the image of the big family, “La Gran Familia Goya,” was questioned for the first time. The powerful company was involved in an ugly dispute with its employees, who were mostly Latino immigrants working in Goya’s factory in Miami and who were trying to unionize to improve working conditions. “They don’t care about customers, they don’t care about workers, they just care about making a profit,” said Rodolfo Chavez, who worked as a truck driver for Goya for almost ten years.

Photo by Ysabel Turner.

In 2017, another boycott put Goya on the spotlight again. This time, many Puerto Ricans decided to boycott Goya products after the company removed its support from the Puerto Rican Day Parade. For artist Ysabel Turner, Goya’s boycott of the parade felt personal and she started to ask herself deeper questions about the brand’s role in her community: “Who was behind these products, whose cultures have been boiled down to fit into these packaged goods? If Goya is so ingrained and such a piece of the family, should it be given the status of a family member?” And she looked for answers through her art.

For this episode of Latino USA, we dive into the history of Goya Foods to understand how this company became a symbol of identity for Latinos and Latinas and how it aimed to profit from the deep bonds we have with food and culture.

Featured image by Ysabel Turner.

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11 thoughts on “Goya In Three Boycotts

  1. I, a latino, millennial, support goya and will continue to support goya. And btw i voted for Trump twice because of jobs and the economy and the msm treating him the way they did.

    1. Is your real name Ted Cruz? Are you so foolish not to recognize that the base of Trump supporters are white suprematists who don’t want you to have any rights?? So sad that you would line up to be a victim of prejudice rather than stand tall for rights.

  2. Will always buy Goya no matter what. They stand for what they believe , like I stand for mine. Que viva Goya. I’m going to buy more. This is not a communist country.

    1. correct, this is not a communist country – it is the most democratic country in the world. Otherwise we would not have a free marketplace like this; nor would you mrscarmenthomassC be able to comment here. Perhaps the country you or your ancestors emigrated from was not so democratic as the US. But is wrong, unpatriotic and misleading to claim that everything you don’t like is comparable to a ‘communist country’. This is the behavior of authoritarian governments. So if you want to behave like an authoritarian government, perhaps you should support them, instead of making making false attacks on our beloved constitution and defaming our country’s values and image

  3. As a Black-American I have always went out of my way to purchase Goya products as I fully support all minority own businesses when I can. The reason for my support of these companies is that as a minority I would hope the companies would be aware and support the struggles of minority groups in their markets and this country. I would hope these companies would use their profits and influence to make for a more equal and fair society. Perhaps a very lofty perfect world vision. But to think that a company makes it’s money largely from a certain group of people and then supports individuals or groups that look to disrespect that same group creates a disturbing picture. I have not purchased a Goya product since September 2020 after 40 years of brand loyalty and will never allow the brand name in my house again. I have spread the word to as many who will listen.

    1. I have boycotted Goya since September 2020, as well, after a lifetime of brand loyalty. I am truly disgusted by them, ashamed that I ever gave them one cent of my money. I will continue to boycott Goya or do without. Shame on them!

  4. I’m an old white conservative guy with Asian and Black family members. I never really thought about Goya products but after hearing of the boycotts, decided to support Goya. Now, whenever I food shop I hit the Goya section first to purchase the things I need from them instead of other brands. I don’t even check the prices-I just buy Goya!!!

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