When Ricardo Alvarado went grocery shopping this week, he had a list of items to buy, but he steered clear of anything from Goya Foods. “I was using their beans, but I found a different brand,” he said. “I switched olive oil, too, and I bought my own spices, not theirs.”
A performing artist based in New York City, Alvarado is boycotting Goya Foods. “As long as I’m helping my community, I will do my part. It’s important that we show unity and solidarity.”
The CEO of Goya Foods, Robert Unanue, plunged the company into turmoil last week when he praised President Donald Trump at an event announcing the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative. “We’re all truly blessed, at the same time, to have leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said. He compared the president to his grandfather, a Spanish immigrant who founded the company in 1936.
News of Unanue’s words spread quickly, and hashtags like #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya trended on social media.
For Alvarado, boycotting Goya Foods is personal. “I know the company employs a lot of Latinos and is very charitable,” he said, “but with everything that is going on with this administration and the border, the family separations and DACA, for Goya to step up and support him [Trump] for his work just blew my mind.”
“There is so much hate against our communities,” Alvarado said. “And the face of that hate is Trump. I feel like Goya is supporting hate, by supporting Trump.”
As far back as Cesar Chavez’s boycotts of grapes during the 1970s, consumer campaigns have been a way for Latino communities to amplify their voices. But the Goya episode feels different to many Latinos, because it come at a time when the nation is politically polarized and some Latinos report feeling under siege.
The “Boycott Goya” movement, some Latinos say, is more about taking a stand against the president’s bigotry than about punishing a once-beloved brand.
Valerie Halsema, a teacher in Los Angeles, said that she relates to both sides of the Goya issue. “I support the boycott, but I also support his [Unanue’s] right to say what he wants. If he wants to say that, go for it,” said Halsema, “but anytime you take a stance, there are consequences, and I’m not sure he was ready for it.”
Halsema noted that “where I would draw the line is death threats, harassment and people trying to totally shut someone down.” The idea of the boycott is a good one, she believes, because “Donald Trump has not exactly been a champion of people of color. He’s been so divisive. I would say I support the boycott — and free speech.”
Unanue’s comments have led to public figures like Lin Manuel-Miranda, chef José Andrés, actor John Leguizamo, former Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez,D-N.Y., to express support for a Goya boycott or criticize Unanue’s comments.
So far, Unanue is standing by his words. In an interview on “Fox and Friends” last week, he likened the backlash to “suppression of speech.” Speaking on “The Ingraham Angle,” he said: “We have the opportunity to either do well, or to destroy. And let’s do well.”
Host Laura Ingraham asked Unanue if he planned on apologizing for standing with Trump, and he replied: “Hell, no. Hell, no.”
Goya Foods has, in a sense, participated in a boycott itself, when the company led other corporations in withdrawing support for the Puerto Rican Day Parade in 2017. That year, parade organizers were honoring Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera, whose sentence for seditious conspiracy was commuted by President Barack Obama.
Several national Latino advocacy groups have weighed in on Unanue’s recent remarks. In a statement Friday, the Hispanic Federation called the comments “both painful and insulting.” The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) called Unanue’s words “insensitive, calloused and disrespectful to the workers and consumers who buy Goya Foods products.”
“This is not a party issue”
For Melinda Colón Cox, president of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, the decision to issue a statement regarding Goya Foods was complicated by the fact the company is based in her state, and the organization likely has some members with strong ties to the company.
“When an issue like this arises, we take it very seriously and we do our best to look at the full perspective of views based on the available facts,” Colón Cox said.
Among other factors, her members considered that Trump has a history of making disparaging remarks about Latinos and that Goya Foods prides itself on being part of the Hispanic community and consumer culture.
“It is undeniable that Goya is known for its charity and philanthropic efforts,” Colón Cox said, “yet Mr. Unanue’s remarks led to pain, hurt, and anger for a very large sector of the Latino community.”
Colón Cox’s group is nonpartisan, with members holding diverse political views. “This is not a party issue,” she said. Although she personally is supporting the boycott, her group is not endorsing it.
Colón Cox hopes that Unanue and Goya Foods can heal the anger among some Latinos by reflecting on the reasons behind the boycott. “Words are powerful and they impact how a company is perceived by the public.” Along with other measures, she believes that a statement from Goya acknowledging the boycott itself and why it is happening would be a start in helping to rebuild community trust.
Not a decision “taken lightly”
Maria De Moya, an associate professor of communications at DePaul University in Chicago, was surprised by Unanue’s remarks. “I feel that Goya has been a brand that has always done a good job at celebrating immigrants and Latino culture, everything that this administration seems against.”
Any CEO is entitled to his or her political views, De Moya explained, but when an executive is speaking on behalf of a brand, they owe it to the company, to investors and to their employees to represent the brand in the best way.
“Giving passionate, public praise to President Trump, and then not backing down from the backlash, does not strike me as wise,” she said.
De Moya added that a boycott does not have to cripple or bankrupt a company to be considered successful. Consumer boycotts can have the cumulative effect of subjecting a company to greater scrutiny in the press.
“A boycott can also be successful simply by getting information out there about the company’s values,” she said. “While there are Latinos who support Trump who will continue to buy Goya, there are certain customers the company will probably never get back.”
In New York, Ricardo Alvarado said his decision to boycott Goya Foods was not one he took lightly. “I’ll be honest, it hurt me, coming from Goya. It hit home for me in a hard way.”
“We made Goya, we made them. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Mexican Americans — we made that company,” he said. For Alvarado, it doesn’t matter if others do not continue the boycott, or if it eventually dies out. “I have made my decision. I will keep my word; I am done with them.”
SIMPSON: If pettiness of politics around Surrey feels familiar, there's a good reason why – Surrey Now-Leader
If you had to describe Surrey’s political climate in one word, which would you choose?
Divisive? Too easy.
Defective? Depends on whose side you’re on.
Dysfunctional? You can’t argue with that, can you?
Anybody who follows municipal politics in our area knows that for a journalist, the city council beat can be a particularly juicy one, especially when presented with the right mix of contentious issues and strong personalities.
Stories about certain council members’ inability to deal with disagreements like grown ups are nothing new. Just say the word ‘pencil’ down near White Rock’s City Hall and see what reaction you get.
And over the years, our newsroom has been privy to many tips and tidbits about our elected officials. Some were worthy of publication, while others were… well… definitely not.
Somebody’s sleeping with someone’s husband.
These two are dating.
Somebody’s a home-wrecker.
These two were photographed coming out of a hotel together.
These two were caught making out in the back of a car.
But the gossip isn’t always sexual (although it’s disturbingly common) – so-and-so hit ‘like’ on a Facebook post that made fun of a fellow slate member.
Wait. We actually did that story and I got yelled at for it.
Anyway, you get the point.
The politics surrounding Surrey has gotten too nasty and too personal – and it can make it difficult to stick to the issues.
In the past few months, we’ve told you about attack ads featuring doctored photos of councillors. We’ve shared full exchanges from chambers that would tell you all you need to know about the pettiness on council.
Consider the response we received after we asked a councillor if it’s fair to publish an attack ad if it uses doctored photos and inaccurate quotes.
“I can’t answer that,” was the terrible answer he gave.
Does any of this feel familiar to you? If it does, there’s a good reason why.
Let former U.S. President Barack Obama explain.
“More than anything, I wanted this book to be a way in which people could better understand the world of politics and foreign policy, worlds that feel opaque and inaccessible,” he said in an interview with The Atlantic about his recently released book.
“It’s interesting. You’re in high school and you see all the cliques and bullying and unfairness and superficiality, and you think, Once I’m grown up I won’t have to deal with that anymore. And then you get to the state legislature and you see all the nonsense and stupidity and pettiness.
“And then you get to Congress and then you get to the G20, and at each level you have this expectation that things are going to be more refined, more sophisticated, more thoughtful, rigorous, selfless, and it turns out it’s all still like high school.”
That it does. That it does.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
OPINION: Indian politics loses kingmaker – Anadolu Agency
The writer is a senior journalist at Anadolu Agency
Behind every successful leader, there stands a confidant backroom boy, who not only exercises a surreptitious influence but works as an effective link for him with the world.
Recently, Indian politics lost one of its most important and longest surviving backroom boy, Ahmed Patel, to the COVID-19 at the age of 71. Wielding power and influence, while remaining firmly in the background, Patel worked as political advisor to Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s main opposition Congress party, for two decades.
From 2004-14, when Congress ruled India, Patel was instrumental in choosing ministers, political tie-ups, and a man behind actions in the parliament. Considering his clout and authority, no Muslim has so far been able to achieve such a coveted position in India’s national politics over the past 73-years, since the country’s independence.
A devoted Muslim, who could be seen offering late-night prayer in a corner of a mosque, just opposite the Indian parliament complex, Patel always kept a low profile. Once ahead of Friday prayers, when there was no water in the taps, he was seen operating a single tube well in the courtyard of the mosque. He continued pushing its handle, till all those who had come to offer prayers performed ablutions. Little did these poor souls know that a powerful person of the country was pumping out water for them.
His affable attitude, humble nature, and tendency to remain out of the limelight did not match the aura he had attained in Indian politics. At a first glance, he never appeared to be a kingmaker. During 10 years of the Congress party’s rule, he was the one to decide about appointments of ministers and advisors for the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, installing chief ministers in provinces, and choosing candidates to contest elections.
The working style of Patel, known as Ahmed Bhai (brother) in New Delhi’s political circles, was also unique. His bungalow at New Delhi’s Mother Teresa Crescent would turn to life at the dusk. He would inspect files, devise strategies, and return phone calls till early morning prayers. In a sense working on a graveyard shift was his routine. Top politicians and ministers used to line up in the lawns of his bungalow to seek an audience.
Repository of political secrets
Once when I had an appointment with him, I saw Speaker of Lok Sabha (Lower House) Meira Kumar, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha (Upper House), and few other ministers waiting outside his room. When I was ushered in, I told him that presiding officers of parliament were waiting outside, thinking he might not be knowing. But with a wry smile, he said they can wait forever, for the work they wanted him to do.
But to expect that he would ever give the news to a journalist was perverse. He was a repository of Indian political secrets. He would often say that these secrets would go along with him to his grave. But if a journalist did manage to get a scoop, he would either deny or confirm. Since it was known that he would not mislead, even if the news is against his interest, his one word “yes” or “no” was seen as authentic. Whenever you would call him, he would return the call or send back a message only past midnight.
In August 2011, while working as a political reporter in New Delhi, I noticed Sonia Gandhi, who was also the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, was not seen in any public function over some time. Her office had canceled her appointments as well. I could dig this much that she had gone abroad. But it was still a question, why her tour is shrouded in secrecy?
In the next few days, I came to know that she had a health check at a local hospital and had been advised to go abroad for treatment. When I discussed it in the office, editors said it was a big news and cannot be published without due confirmation. I called Ahmed Bhai and as expected received his call back past midnight. His one sentence was that Gandhi was operated on successfully at a cancer hospital in New York.
The next day, after adding some more details to the scoop, my organization broke the news in the afternoon, which soon went viral. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of the western province of Gujarat, retweeted the news, with a question that why Gandhi’s ailments were kept top secret?
Whether it was the Congress party’s grand nationwide session or any meeting at the party headquarters, or even an Iftar party during Ramazan, he would ensure all arrangements, from setting the stage to security, sound system to deciding seating arrangement for guests singlehandedly. Soon the function started, he would merge into the background and sit in a corner with ordinary workers. Even when as a member of the party’s top decision-making body Congress Working Committee (CWC), he had to sit on a stage, he would prefer the last row, far from the media glare. He was never seen in any banquets at the presidential palace or national days of embassies or even at receptions hosted for foreign dignitaries.
In 2008, when Left Parties withdrew support on the issue of signing a nuclear deal with the US, the government was reduced to a minority. The opposition soon moved a no-confidence motion. They expected that the Left and socialist Samajwadi Party (SP), who were seen as anti-US would support the motion and bring down the government. It was left to Patel to save the government, who arranged a meeting of SP leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh with former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who had been also a distinguished scientist. He counted the benefits of the Indo-US nuclear deal to the socialist leaders. Just after coming out of the house of the former president, they announced that they will vote for the government.
Since the Congress was leading a coalition government from 2004-14, in almost all parliament sessions Patel was seen running helter-skelter in the central hall convincing allies and opposition seeking support for a particular bill. His connections across the aisle were handy for the government. He was among a rare breed of politicians, who would never get angry, even if you disagree or even use harsh words against him or his leader.
In 2004, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government was defeated in the elections, the outgoing Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted the new government to continue with his four initiatives – strategic partnership talks with the US, peace process with Pakistan, interlinking of rivers, and construction of north-south and east-west highways.
Except interlinking of rivers, new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh continued with all the projects and even took them to new levels. While continuing the peace process with Pakistan in 2007, it was decided to sign an agreement to settle the issues of Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek. It was believed that by settling these issues, a positive atmosphere will be created to help crack more difficult issues like Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism and pave way for the visit of Singh to Islamabad for an overall agreement.
Opposed Siachen agreement
But when in February 2007, Pakistan’s Defense Secretary Tariq Wasim Ghazi arrived in India to finalize the agreement, the Election Commission of India had announced provincial assembly elections in India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh. At the CWC meeting, which was called to finalize the list of candidates, Patel questioned Prime Minister Singh for going ahead and agreeing on troop withdrawal from the Siachen heights. Insiders recall that Patel, in presence of Gandhi, said that the opposition BJP will go hammer and tongs by displaying pictures of troops vacating the icy heights to marginalize Congress.
As this meeting was on, the news came that Army Chief Gen. Joginder Jaswant Singh, who was touring northeastern states, has publicly opposed the agreement. It was a surprise for Singh, as just a few days ago, at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, the army chief had approved the accord.
Patel’s opposition to the Siachen agreement proved a nail in the coffin of the India-Pakistan peace process. The same year later, Pakistan then-President Pervez Musharraf got preoccupied with tackling lawyers’ agitation. Ironically, neither BJP nor Congress won the Uttar Pradesh state elections. Both were trounced and a Hindu lower caste Dalit Bahujan Samaj Party won the elections.
Insiders in the Congress said Patel had given a choice to Singh that the party would work for building a public opinion either for an Indo-US nuclear deal or for a peace process with Pakistan. They said Singh chose the nuclear deal.
India’s current Minister for External Affairs Subramanyam Jaishankar, a former diplomat, had worked tirelessly for the conclusion of the Indo-US nuclear deal by using his contacts in Washington. Singh wanted him to become a foreign secretary in 2013. But it is believed that Patel vetoed the appointment on the ground that a staunch pro-US diplomat would not go well with the ideals of the ruling Congress party. Sujata Singh was appointed as foreign secretary. She was, however, dismissed by Prime Minister Modi in 2015 and replaced by Jaishankar, who had just a few days left to retire.
Paved way for Modi’s Delhi journey
Since Congress had assumed power in 2004 by tying up an alliance of secular and liberal forces, who had panicked at the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, many party leaders were pushing for initiating criminal proceedings against then-chief minister of the state, Narendra Modi. But Patel, who also belonged to Gujarat, put his foot down, arguing to tackle Modi politically. He thus paved way for the ascendency of Modi to become prime minister.
In 2017, Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah tried hard to defeat him in the elections for the upper house. But they did not succeed. During his career, he was elected to the lower house thrice and remained a member of the upper house for several terms.
Ahmed Bhai’s faithfulness towards his leader, personal integrity, remaining away from the limelight, humble nature, and tolerance were some of the characteristics hardly seen nowadays in the corridors of politics and power.
In a heartfelt tribute, Gandhi said Patel was more than a troubleshooter and crisis manager for her. She described him as a quintessential organizational man, who worked quietly but effectively away from the public glare and spotlight. “Ahmed has left us, but his memories will live on,” she said.
Goodbye Ahmed Bhai. Stay in peace. In the words of poet Iqbal: “The imprudent ones consider death is the end of life. This apparent evening of life is the morning of perpetual life!”
*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.
Politics Briefing: Liberals acknowledge missed target on clean water for First Nations – The Globe and Mail
During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals promised to end long-term drinking water advisories on First Nations by March, 2021.
Today, after months of speculation, the government acknowledged that it was not going to meet that deadline.
In fact, there are still 59 advisories in 41 First Nations communities. The longest of which, in Neskantaga in Ontario and Shoal Lake No. 40 in Manitoba, have been in place since the mid-1990s.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the government was still racing to provide clean water in those communities by March, but it was unlikely to get all of them in place in the next four months. The government is pledging $1.5-billion in the next fiscal year to that purpose.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
Trade between Canada and China is growing, despite the chilly diplomatic relations.
The Indian government expressed disapproval with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supporting protests by farmers in India. (Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh have also voiced support for the farmers.)
More than half of women and men living in the territories have been the victims of physical of sexual assault since the age of 15, Statistics Canada reports.
Canada’s Competition Commissioner says he can’t make nearly the same moves against tech giants that other international watchdogs are making, because he doesn’t have the same powers.
Paul Rochon, the deputy minister of Finance, has resigned.
And the light at the end of the tunnel: Britain is set to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines next week after approving of the drug produced by Pfizer.
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the Liberals’ fall economic statement: “The COVID-19 pandemic has savaged this country’s finances. You simply can’t slough off a deficit that will likely surpass $400-billion once we’ve struggled through the dark winter that awaits us. Years of previously unimaginable deficits lie ahead.”
Michael Geist (The Globe and Mail) on why the new broadcasting bill could lead to less Canadian ownership of content: “Yet the obvious trajectory of the new Canadian system is to shift away from the licensing system. Broadcasters in the licensed world will increasingly look at the unlicensed internet world that is free from foreign investment restrictions and conclude that they prefer the unlicensed system.”
SIMPSON: If pettiness of politics around Surrey feels familiar, there's a good reason why – Surrey Now-Leader
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