Bolivian Man Lives to 123 Years: Is Carmelo Flores The Oldest Man Ever Recorded?

Carmelo Flores
Carmelo Flores Laura lives in a small village in Bolivia and is supposedly the new oldest man alive, at age 123. Associated Press

Carmelo Flores Laura is supposedly the new oldest living person ever recorded – and he’s 123 years old.

Flores is Aymara, an ethnic group of South Americans living on a plateau called the Altiplano throughout Peru and Bolivia. The Aymara live in a harsh climate where they raise and herd llama and alpacas, and grow crops like potatoes, quinoa, corn, beans, and wheat.

According to the AP, Flores’ birthdate in Bolivian registry is listed as July 16, 1890.

Bolivian birth certificates did not exist until 1940, but Roman Catholic priests provided baptism certificates. This is valid for the state, Eugenio Condori, director of Bolivia’s civil registrar, told the AP.

If his birth date is accurate, he will be a supercentenarian who surpassed Jeanne Calment who is currently considered the oldest person to have lived. A supercentenarian is someone who has lived past their 110th birthday. Calment was born in 1875 in France, and lived to 1997, dying at age 122.

Calment supposedly ate plenty of olive oil, which she poured over food and her skin, drank port wine, and ate chocolate. At age 85, she took up fencing and rode her bicycle until age 100, though she wasn’t particularly athletic.

Flores chews coca leaves, which are mild stimulants similar to caffeine. Though the coca plant has been a social, spiritual and medicinal ritual for natives for thousands of years, it is controversial due to its being raw material to cocaine. Chewing the leaf itself, however, provides a mild caffeine kick similar to that of coffee. Flores also claims to not eat many rice or noodles, and mostly barley and mutton.

In the list of oldest people to be recorded, the largest number of people lived until about 115 or 116 years old. In June, Jiroemon Kimura, another on the list of the oldest people in history, passed away at the age of 116 in Japan.

Whether or not Flores is truly 123 years old, his answer to the “How have you lived so long?” question is simple: “I walk a lot, that’s all. I go out with the animals,” he told the AP. He has 40 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, and he has never left his native village of Frasquia, which is still filled with grazing donkeys and cattle.

Join the Discussion