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29329: potemaksonje (news) 'World's oldest man' originally from Haiti (fwd)


'World's oldest man' dies in Cuba
By Stephen Gibbs
BBC News, Havana

Benito Martinez said he came to Cuba from Haiti in

A Cuban man who claimed to be the oldest person in the
world has died in hospital at what he believed was the
age of 126.

Benito Martinez, whose age was never proved, was the
star attraction of a Cuban government campaign to
promote healthy lives for its oldest citizens.

He was absolutely certain that he was born in Haiti in

Mr Martinez had long enjoyed being living proof that
it was possible to live happily to a very ripe old

Until his last months, he led a relatively active
life, tending plants outside his one-bedroom house,
visiting the local old people's home and being more
than happy to demonstrate that being 120-plus did not
mean you could not dance.

Toothless grin

He was born in Haiti and is believed to have come to
Cuba in 1925 at the age of 45 as a farm labourer.

He worked for a while on a ranch in eastern Cuba,
which happened to be owned by Fidel Castro's father.

His neighbours remember the man with the broad
toothless grin as always being very old.

He never married, something which together with a life
of hard work, fresh vegetables, not too many cigars
and little alcohol, he attributed to being the secret
of a long life.

Mr Martinez was the leading light of Cuba's 120 club,
an organisation which aims to promote healthy living
for the elderly.

The Cuban government, which takes great pride in the
fact that the country's average life expectancy is 77
years, the same as the most developed nations, tried
but failed to uncover baptism records or a birth
certificate in Haiti.

For that reason Benito Martinez was never officially
the world's oldest man. But he died convinced that he

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