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Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

I Don’t Want to Live to 120 Years Old

November 13, 2017 |

Elio Delgado Legon

At one of Cuba’s 120s clubs. Photo: Agustín Borrego Torres/ cadenaagramonte.cu

HAVANA TIMES — In Cuba, it’s no secret to anyone that the population is aging more and more as the days go by. The reasons for this are many, but there are two main ones: low birth rates, also for many different reasons, and the advances made in medicine and healthcare, which have managed to increase life expectancy from just over 60 years old before the Revolution, to almost 80 today.

Scientists have proposed and reality has proven that a human being can live up to 120 years or more. In Cuba, we have over 2,000 centenarians, many of whom still enjoy good health and therefore can aspire to reaching the 120-year-old target. However, I don’t want to live to 120 years old.

I have several reasons for not wanting to aspire to living to such an advanced age. One of them is the fact that even though there is better healthcare, you do start losing your faculties and even though you want to do things, you can’t. I recently turned 80 and both the doctor and my family have stopped me from doing lots of things. Another reason I don’t want to get so old is that you start losing family and friends and you slowly wind up alone. This last factor is something that has hit me the hardest nowadays, and I’m still far from being a centenarian.

This year, 2017, I have lost my two best friends, they were like brothers, which has left me feeling a great solitude.

I have been living in Havana for over 40 years, where I studied Journalism and where I was offered a job, but I am from a small town called Santo Domingo in the Villa Clara province. I have two sisters, two nephews and four great-nephews and nieces there, so I always travel there to see them every year to spend two or three days with them. When my parents used to live there, I would go every month and sometimes more than once a month. Back then, my family was more complete.

In that small town, I used to have many friends and comrades from past struggles and I didn’t have enough days to go and visit some of them and I would run into others on the street. I would constantly be running into friends and acquaintances, which made it hard for me to walk from one end of the town to the other very quickly. The anecdotes, stories and re-counting of times long past used to take up our time without us even noticing.

This situation has gradually been changing and I can now walk from one side of the town to the other without meeting anyone I know. Not because they’ve emigrated to another country, but because time has been writing them off, and I feel as if I am in a desert there, in the midst of great loneliness, among so many people I don’t know.

Maybe, within a few years, if I continue to have my health, my age will stop me from making those trips and I’ll have to stay in Havana where I have my children, my granddaughters and my great-granddaughters, who bring joy to my life, but I will slowly have to stop visiting them because they live a long way away from me and so I’ll have to conform to when they can visit me, from time to time, because they will have many things to do and commitments and this will limit their visits to a phone call from time to time.

Therefore, I will be alone with my wife, who I hope stays with me for a long time, or maybe I’ll find company in the new friends I’ll make in a nursing home, waiting, waiting. That’s why I don’t want to live to 120 years old.

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  • Moses Patterson

    After several years of reading Elio’s posts, this is the first one that I can unequivocally say is probably 100% true.

  • Joseph Marti

    I am desparately trying to understand what this article has to do with the specific state of Cuban politics, culture, society. Same is basically true everywhere.

    • Ken Hiebert

      The author reports that life expectancy has risen from 60 to almost 80 today. Surely, this indicates a success for the Cuban Revolution.

      • Moses Patterson

        Ken, you would have to measure that increase of nearly 20 years of life expectancy against the average increase worldwide in similar countries. Against that measure, I would suspect the Castro revolution has contributed little if any to the increase.

        • Ken Hiebert

          I looked up life expectancy figures.
          http://www.geoba.se/population.php?pc=world&type=15

          I have not found figures for the change since 1959. But I did find the rankings of countries in 2017. Among Latin American countries, Panama (78.78) and Costa Rica (78.72) came in ahead of Cuba (78.22).
          After Cuba were Mexico (77.05) and Uruguay (76.81). Further down the list was Brazil at 74.06.

          • Joseph Marti

            Ken. Let’s make it easier and put into more relevant perspective to dispense of the article’s BS. According to The World Bank, average global life expectancy in 1960 was 52. In 2015, 72. If you want to stand on rooftops and crow Cuba’s 20 years in a vacuum, I am sure there are a lot of gullible individuals that will jump on board. Just saying….

          • Ken Hiebert

            Your research was better than mine and i accept the point that the improvement in Cuba was paralleled by a worldwide improvement. It it also true that in the whole of Latin America only two countries come in ahead of Cuba.

          • Joseph Marti

            Ken, the differences are so very very statistically insignificant….

          • Ken Hiebert

            We can disagree on the significance of the facts as long as we are agreed as to what the facts are. And i don’t think we are disagreeing as to the facts.
            http://www.geoba.se/population.php?pc=world&type=15

            Your research skills have been better than mine. Perhaps you could research for us the progress made by a variety of Latin American countries from 1959 to the present.

  • Raphael Stephen-Pons

    Elio Delgado-Legon is the best author on this website