And why you should care a hill of beans:
“You always respect the president of the United States,”
… offers the CEO of the family-owned Goya Foods, who has been the target of liberal leftist attacks since he was asked to the White House on 9 July. Robert Unanue was at the Rose Garden to participate in the White House Prosperity Initiative, an executive order to promote educational and job opportunities for Hispanics.
“I’m not going to say no to a Hispanic prosperity commission,” Unanue told Tunku Varadarajan in the WSJ’s “Weekend Interview.”
How to Enrage the Left
The Left is enraged. What is the genesis of this anger? Mr. Unanue’s assertion that the U.S. is “truly blessed . . . to have a leader like President Trump,”
Prominent leftist Hispanics including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “Hamilton” playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, rounded on Mr. Unanue for his praise of Mr. Trump, urging a boycott of Goya’s products. These include rice, oil, sauces, spices and a bewildering variety of beans.
The attacks on him have been abusive. A headline on the liberal Daily Beast website read: “This Isn’t ‘Cancel Culture.’ The Goya CEO Is Just a Moron.”
“Well, they’re certainly entitled to their opinions,” Mr. Unanue maintains, adding that he’s had “a lot on insults lobbed at me, a lot of F-bombs and disrespectful things like that.”
Choosing Not to Give In
Claiming not to understand the hostility, Mr. Unanue adds, “One of the most important things we’ve lost as a country is respect for differing opinions. Can I explain why people react that way? No. But you can react in different ways to it. And I choose not to give in.”
The Goya CEO also joined forces with Michelle Obama in 2012, when the first lady launched an initiative called MiPlato—“My Plate”—to improve nutrition in Hispanic communities. He remembers the event in Tampa, Fla., just after Mrs. Obama’s 48th birthday: “She had this sleeveless dress on and was as fit as anything. I was about 50 pounds heavier than I am now. It was like I was the ‘before’ picture, and she was the ‘after.’ ”
It’s an Honor to Be Alongside a President
At the White House in 2011, Mr. Unanue had said he was “honored and humbled” to be alongside Mr. Obama. Yet Mr. Unanue recalls no abuse or recrimination from activists on the right, many of whom detested the 44th president as intensely as their leftist counterparts loathe the 45th. “There was no reaction,” Mr. Unanue says. “You have freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, and I think that was respected.”
Under “Goya Gives,” the company has donated “tons of food to Venezuela, which is experiencing brutal shortages under the Bolivarian socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro,” continues Mr. Varadarajan in his Zoom interview with Goya’s CEO.
The company has also given a million cans of chickpeas and a million pounds of other goods to food banks, charities and churches across the U.S. The pandemic, Mr. Unanue says, has resulted in food shortages and hunger. When Covid-19 hit the U.S., “there was, all of a sudden, a burst of demand” for his products. “Fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk and all that dried up, so we became first responders in a way. Luckily, we had sufficient inventories.”
In attendance at the interview, reports Mr. V, was a PR person, a bit anxious. After the interview, President Trump and daughter Ivanka tweeted photos of themselves posing with Goya products, and Mr. Unanue responded with an “expression of gratitude for the first family.”
After several fretful back and forths with the Goya PR rep, the “upright” Mr. Unanue emailed Mr. Varadarajan.
Taking a Stand Softly
“I remain strong in my convictions that I feel blessed with the leadership of our President. That has been repeated over and over again and I stand by it.
“I hope and pray you understand my position.”