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Cuba's oldest man dies at 126 YEARS OLD
10-13-2006, 08:32 PM
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Cuba's oldest man dies at 126 YEARS OLD
The oldest man in Cuba, Benito Martinez Abogan, died at the ripe age of 126 on Wednesday without fulfilling his dream of returning to his homeland in Haiti, which he had left 81 years ago.

The Cuban-Haitian died at a hospital in central Cuba, where he was taken last week after suffering from pneumonia and a heart ailment, according to the director of his retirement home.

Better known by his nickname "Avion," or "Plane" in Spanish, Martinez still had energy, good vision and hearing, and a sense of humour until he got sick, said Camilo Cienfuegos retirement home director Maribel del Castillo.

Martinez was born in Cavaillon, in southwest Haiti, on June 19, 1880, and arrived in Cuba in 1925. He worked in sugar cane and coffee plantations, and also road construction.

The centenarian also worked briefly at one of the farms owned by the father of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

He lived in the countryside, ate lots of vegetables and didn't smoke, said Noel Lopez, a retirement home worker. He never stopped drinking coffee and sometimes knocked backed some rum.

His feet were gnarled from walking without shoes for more than 100 years, Lopez said.

In one of last his interviews, Martinez said one of the secrets of his longevity was to "get along with everyone."
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