Goya Foods CEO Won't Apologize for Complimenting Trump, Says Boycott Is 'Suppression of Speech'

The chief executive officer at Goya Foods, Inc. said Friday that he will not issue an apology for positive remarks made toward President Donald Trump, and called demands to boycott his company "suppression of speech."

"It is suppression of speech.… You're allowed to talk good or to praise one president, but you're not allowed, when I was called to be part of this commission, to aid in economic and educational prosperity, and you make a positive comment, and all of a sudden it is not acceptable," Robert Unanue, the CEO at Goya, said during an appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends.

Unanue, who is of Spanish and Puerto Rican descent, was invited by Trump to the White House to watch as the president signed an executive order for the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, which is a commission tasked with improving "access by Hispanic Americans to educational and economic opportunities," according to the order.

The Goya CEO was among several elected officials and business leaders present in the Rose Garden for the signing, and he said, "We are all truly blessed…to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder.

"And that is what my grandfather did. He came to this county to build, to grow, to prosper. And so 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."

Unanue's grandfather, Prudencio Unanue Ortiz, emigrated from Spain to Puerto Rico, and eventually moved to New Jersey where he founded Goya Foods.

Unanue talked about also responding to calls from then-President Barack Obama during his presidency when asked for help in getting the Hispanic community to eat more healthy foods.

"I'm not apologizing for saying—especially if you are called by the president of the United States. You are going to say, 'No, I'm sorry. I'm busy. No thank you?' I didn't say that to the Obamas, and I didn't say that to President Trump," Unanue said, agreeing with the Fox News host who said there seems to be a double standard.

Unanue stated in a press release Friday that he was "honored" to be part of the newly created commission.

"Our country faces a time of historic challenge but we will meet that challenge together and continue to work towards greatness, focus on a strong recovery, and hold onto the hope for a healthier future for all," Unanue said.

The press release also mentioned the "millions of pounds of food" Goya has donated historically. The company released another press release April 9 indicating they donated 200,000 pounds of food—"equivalent to over 170,000 meals"—during to provide relief for families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted the video of Unanue praising Trump Thursday with the caption, "Oh look, it's the sound of me Googling 'how to make your own Adobo,'" and another tweet teaching people how to make their own adobo recipe, though it is not clear if the congresswoman would be boycotting Goya.

Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling “how to make your own Adobo” https://t.co/YOScAcyAnC

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 10, 2020

Newsweek reached out to Goya and Ocasio-Cortez for comment, but they did not respond in time for publication.

Goya Food Inc. CEO Robert Unanue
Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue speaks prior to President Donald Trump signing an Executive Order on the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative at the White House, on July 9. Unanue said he would not apologize for his positive remarks toward the president, and called demands for a boycott of his company "suppression of speech." Jim Watson/Getty