A few months ago, Robert Unanue looked us in the eyes and stabbed us in the heart. “We are all truly blessed,” the Goya CEO declared, “to have a leader like Donald Trump.” And just like that, pantries across the diaspora said goodbye to their beans.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so shocked. In the United States, The Federal Election Commission (FEC) keeps campaign donations as public information. Meanwhile, organizations like Center for Responsive Politics and Goods Unite Us collate and rate it. Still, the truth of the matter is that more companies than you might think donate to politics, and an overwhelming majority of the ones you may consider near and dear to your heart donate to the Republican party, specifically—and they do so quietly.
As we approach the most consequential election of our lifetimes and all aspects of our existence—from the most banal (beans) to our epistemological foundations (science) —seem to consolidate with politics, can this be a brutal lesson in not tying our identities with any brands?
Goya, based in New Jersey and run by the Unanue family, calls itself “the largest U.S. Hispanic-owned food company.” The Unanue family has been based in the United States since 1918, moving between their native Spain and Puerto Rico expanding their business.
They target Latines because age only lasts so long, and politics can be messy and alienating, or “not brand-safe.” They know that the kitchen is important to most of us—it’s where we bond with our loved ones and create memories. But Goya, and others like it, is just a name on a label. The recipe is yours, your family’s and your culture’s.
Still, is Latinidad anymore than, as Miguel Salazar wrote in The Nation, an ethno-identification formulated “as a necessity in the face of white supremacy and anti-Mexican Juan Crow laws?” Should it hinge on the brand of a can of food?
Here are what other Latino brands do as far as political donations:
Did you know Café Pilon and Bustelo are owned by the same company that makes Uncrustables, JW Smucker? Well, they are and, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data compiled by Goods Unite Us, 89% of that company’s senior employees and/or company’s donation contributions—nearly $250,000—went to Republican campaigns, including Donald Trump’s. Through their political action committee (PAC), Smuckers has raised almost $50,000 between 2019 and 2020, with much of its contributions going to Republican senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Senator Rob Portman and Congressman Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.
Similarly, most of the more than $1 million in political contributions made by Dole Food’s top-level employees went to Republicans. In 2014, according to Open Secrets one employee donated $10,000 to Mitch Mcconnell’s campaign. In 2020 alone, 73% of employee donations from Dole’s competitor, Del Monte, went to Republicans, too.
Meanwhile, in 2018, employees of Grupo Bimbo, the makers of our favorite white bread, reportedly made a $2,700 donation to Donald Trump. That was their only donation on record. Are Gansitos still as sweet?
Grupo Salinas, owner of TV Azteca and Mazatlán FC (Liga MX), made 93% of its political contributions to Republicans, mostly in the Senate. In fact, since 2008, they have shifted their contributions from Democrats to Republicans.
Finally, what’s in your drink? Both Modelo and Corona beers are owned by Anheuser-Busch, the company that, in both 2016 and 2018, allegedly gave $1.7 million to Republicans. Your tequila isn’t safe either. While Bacardi, the maker of Patrón, has slowed its contributions, 60% of the more than $1 million its Bacardi USA PAC has donated since 1990 went to Republicans.
The hardest pill to swallow is not that El Osito Bimbo isn’t as cute as we thought, but that our view of the truth is often more constructed than we might see. Capitalism succeeds when it makes us blind to that fact. The nuggets of truth are often purposely buried, but if you try to look, you just might find them for yourself.