President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has reignited a controversy surrounding Goya Foods by releasing a group of Spanish-language ads that reference a boycott against the brand.
The ads, which will air on both TV and radio, have been created to highlight the “Democrats’ shameful smear campaign against Goya Foods, a beloved Hispanic-owned family business,” the Trump campaign announced on Wednesday.
Cuban actress Susana Pérez, who narrated the TV ad, claimed in Spanish over video of Cuban refugees being airlifted to the US that “we sacrificed so much to be free and respected.”
Ms Pérez added: “Now the left has launched a smear campaign against Goya, the brand we love, just because Goya is working with president Trump,” and encouraged supporters to text “GOYA” to receive updates from the Trump campaign.
The ads also suggested that the Democratic Party is moving towards socialism, and Ms Pérez claimed in one campaign clip that “Joe Biden and the Democrats are too extreme,” before a picture of Che Guevara and the word “Socialism” were flashed on the screen.
In a statement accompanying the ads, campaign group Latinos for Trump said: “From Democrats’ support for socialism, to cutting school choice and police funding, they are just too extreme for Hispanic Americans.”
They added: “Joe Biden is too weak to stand up for us. Now, with the left’s assault on Goya, it’s clear that not even your abuela’s Sazón would be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
Hispanic voters made up 18 per cent of the Florida electorate in the 2016 election, and the ads will mainly air in heavily Hispanic areas of the state, according to CNN.
The ad references a controversy surrounding the Latino foods brand, that began after its CEO Robert Unanue joined Mr Trump at an event at the White House‘s Rose Garden two weeks ago and told reporters: “We are all truly blessed … to have a leader like president Trump who is a builder.” He added that “we have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president.”
After his comments, some of the president’s critics, including congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, said they would boycott the brand.
Its CEO told Fox News that the boycott of Goya products that followed his comments were a “suppression of speech.” Goya Foods garnered support from the White House, and the president’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, published a photo of herself holding a can of Goya black beans on Twitter last Tuesday.
In her caption, Ms Trump wrote: “If it’s Goya, it has to be good,” and translated the comment in Spanish below. The president followed the post by uploading a picture to Instagram posing with Goya Foods products the following morning.
In the picture, the president smiled and put his thumbs up, while posing behind his desk in the Oval Office, with five Goya products including coconut milk and red kidney beans laid out in front of him.
After the pictures were published, people pointed out that Ms Trump’s post might have violated an ethics rule that states that government employees must not endorse any product.
The section that Ms Trump may have violated reads: “An employee shall not use or permit the use of his government position or title or any authority associated with his public office to endorse any product, service or enterprise.” Yesterday, Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper called for an ethics inquiry into her post and asked if any action will be taken.
In a letter, that was obtained by Politico, they wrote: “The timing of her remarks creates the appearance, at least, that praise for Trump administration officials may elicit later endorsements from these same officials.”
White House spokeswoman Carolina Hurley defended Ms Trump in a statement to CNN last week, where she said: “Ivanka is proud of this strong, Hispanic-owned business with deep roots in the US and has every right to express her personal support.”