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How Beans Became a Symbol of Trump’s Disregard for Ethics

Updated: Aug 12


BY: Isabella Gattuso



A new symbol has emerged to represent Trump’s perception of ethics. And surprisingly, it comes in the form of the beans produced by Hispanic food retailer, Goya Foods. Goya Foods began in 1936 as a humble storefront in Manhattan, and later emerged as one of the largest Hispanic food companies in America. The legacy of two Spanish immigrants, Goya foods became a name synonymous with success and the American Dream. However, the heritage of the company has turned the brand into one of the more controversial symbols of Trump’s America.


The CEO of Goya, Robert Unanue, came under fire recently for expressing his support for Trump at an event announcing an executive order detailing increases in educational and economic opportunities for Hispanics. Opponents to Unanue’s speech were quick to cite examples of Trump’s previous anti-minority rhetoric, including anti-immigration sentiments and labeling all Mexicans as “rapists and criminals”. 


The beans have also become a battleground between Trump’s supporters and adversaries. Though reports indicate that Trump supporters are racing to purchase Goya products, Hispanic dissenters, among which include Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and playwright Lin Manuel Miranda, hinted that they are looking into making their own adobe, a popular spice produced by Goya. 


The Hispanic community is a crucial demographic, so it is understandable that Trump seeked and secured an endorsement from Unanue. As one of the largest racial minorities voting in 2020, and historically the tie breaking demographic in swing states, support from such a large name within the community could tip the election in the President’s favour.


However, it seems the Goya endorsement did not come without a price. On July 14, both Donald and Ivanka Trump posted pictures on their social media expressing support for the brand. For Ivanka, it was a picture of her smiling at the camera while holding a can of Goya Beans, captioned in both English and Spanish: “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.” Donald Trump tweeted a picture of himself surrounded by various Goya products in the Oval Office. These actions breached an ethics law, the Hatch Act, which prevents people in public offices from using their positions to recommend commercial products. Two Democrat Senators, Dom Carper (D- Del.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent letters to the Office of Government Ethics, outlining possible repercussions for Ivanka Trump’s behavior. Other than that, there seem to be no visible consequences. 


Trumps’ behavior conveys his perception of his power. Trump clearly knows about the ethics rule; Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counselor, commended Ivanka Trump’s products so often that the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel recommended her termination. Trump promptly denied the request. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called Trump “The most unethical president in modern history,” citing foreign collusion, loosened environmental regulations, and perpetual promotion of his businesses, leaving the public wondering if his best interests truly reflect the people. 


His continued offenses send the message that everyone in the President’s inner-circle, including Trump himself, are above the law. As representatives of the country, it is their responsibility to hold themselves to a higher ethical standard than the average citizen. Otherwise, there is no model for citizens to follow. Rather, there instead exists an excuse to stain the moral fiber of the nation. 


These beans are just another example of Trump disregarding the rule of law. Goya has already become a battleground, but the unlawfulness behind the posts take it beyond simply being a controversial symbol. Goya Beans has become a symbol of allegiance to Trump, even if they do not share any clear ethical values. The sheer insensitivity of advertising beans only serves to demonstrate where Trump’s priorities lie, and prelude another predicament for the United States.



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