Organics Unlimited sadly announces the passing of organic banana pioneer Carlos Cortes, Sr.
Cortes was the father of Mayra Velazquez de León, president and CEO of Organics Unlimited and GROW. In 1974, Cortes founded the Mexican-American Fruit Company, better known as MexAm, and began marketing organic bananas.
A letter from Cortes received by his daughter upon his passing encapsulates his teachings. “A company without clear values cannot develop a presence in the market, even when it has the economic resources to grow. A company that provides goods or services with a priority on human, economic and social values will be the one that best meets its customers’ needs, develops its people and provides the highest return on investment to its shareholders.”
Carlos Cortes, Sr.
Cortes’ legacy lives on through family-owned commercial banana company Organics Unlimited. Velazquez de León started Organics Unlimited in 2000 and she currently serves as president and CEO along with Cortes’ granddaughter, Daniella Velazquez de León, who is general manager.
“We have lost an icon in the organic banana industry. My father was an engineer by profession and a farmer at heart. He was absorbed by the authenticity of life, making everything a learning experience.
He also paved the way for those following in his footsteps. Many of you might remember the days when organic fertilizers were made by hand with natural ingredients, when wooden crates were used to pack the fruit and when watching his memorable polka dot truck driving by meant that organic bananas were being delivered.
We have lost a father, a friend and a role model. My dad will be remembered by those who knew him for his avid storytelling, which always left listeners with a valuable life lesson. His legacy now lives on through his contributions to a better, more sustainable food system and through four generations of family banana growers that continue his work.” -- Mayra Velazquez de León
“We will remember what he taught us about organic farming: the importance of caring for our land, the history that we carry on and the immensity of what is possible when like-minded, values-based pioneers work together.
Through the GROW Fund, our aim is to give as many children in our rural, growing communities the same opportunity my grandfather had, but that so many children do not have access to – that of an education. It is thanks to his education that my grandfather was able to broaden his horizons, create what he did and, ultimately, give back to his community.” -- Daniella Velazquez de León
To honor his memory, the Organics Unlimited GROW Fund at the International Community Foundation will launch a scholarship in his name starting with the 2022-23 academic year. It will benefit university graduates from Mexico seeking a master’s degree, preferably in agronomy or a related field. Additional scholarship details will be forthcoming.