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National Latino groups condemn Goya Foods CEO for calling Trump the ‘actual president’

Leaders of several national Latino organizations condemned Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue for declaring at a meeting of political conservatives that former President Donald Trump is still the “actual president of the United States.”

Unanue, whose comments have previously earned him a censure from his corporate board, made the statement Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, over the weekend in Orlando, Fla.

“I’m honored to be here, but my biggest honor today is going to be that I think we’re going to be on the same stage as, in my opinion, the real, the legitimate and the still actual president of the United States, Donald J. Trump,” he said.

Several Latino groups said in a statement Monday that Unanue’s remarks “dangerously perpetuate falsehoods that were at the core of the criminal assault on the nation’s capital on Jan. 6th.”

That is the day that violent groups, including many armed participants and many who alleged that the election had been stolen, violently stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in the deaths of at least five people and injuring many others, including police officers. Trump was impeached on a charge of inciting the attack and was acquitted in a Senate trial.

The Latino groups said Unanue’s false allegation that Joe Biden is president because of widespread fraud is an “affront” to millions of Latino voters who cast ballots despite voter suppression.

No widespread fraud has been found in the election. But the lie that the election was rigged was said repeatedly at CPAC, including by Trump.

The Latino groups said in their statement that Unanue is entitled to support the candidate of his choosing. But they added: “What he most clearly should not be entitled to is the platform his role at Goya Foods provides to attack our democracy — the belief and faith in free and fair elections, which has been the bedrock of our union and national success.

“It is a slap in the face to those millions of voters and customers to insist, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that they were complicit in a grand electoral fraud,” they said.

Groups that joined in the statement include the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, Hispanics in Philanthropy, Mi Familia Vota, the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, LatinoJustice, the Latino Commission on AIDS, Alianza Americas, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Federation, Presente.org and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Goya Foods did not immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment.

Unanue praised Trump at a White House event in July, saying the country was “truly blessed” to have him as a leader. That set off a campaign to boycott Goya Foods, which bills itself as the country’s largest Hispanic-owned food brand.

The comments prompted social media backlash with the hashtags #BoycottGoya and #goyaway. Trump and his allies countered with support for the company.

Goya’s board of directors censured Unanue in January after he made similar untrue claims about the election. Unanue has said the backlash is a “suppression of free speech.”

Although most Latinos voted for Biden, exit polls showed that Trump got about a third of the votes cast by Latinos.

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Image: Suzanne Gamboa

Suzanne Gamboa is a national reporter for NBC Latino and NBCNews.com

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