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Carmelo Flores Laura (16 July 1890 (or 1906) – 9 June 2014) was an unverified Bolivian supercentenarian. Neither Guinness World Records nor any other international agency had verified his claim. According to the Gerontology Research Group, Flores actually may have been 107 years old when he died. Flores himself stated he was probably 100 years or older.

Carmelo Flores Laura claimed birth on 16 July 1890 (but documented as born in 1906) in Bolivia, and died on 9 June 2014.

Life

Carmelo Flores Laura was born in the highland of Bolivia, where he grew up as a "calm" and "not mischievous" child. As a young man he moved to Frasquía, a rural area near Lake Titicaca. He worked for the rancher who owned the land until 1952. At that time, the government seized the land and redistributed it to peasants such as Flores. He lived there ever since, never traveling farther than La Paz, 80 kilometres (50 mi) from his home. Flores had five children, one of whom, Cecilio, was alive in 2013 at the age of 65. He had 16 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren. He had a "very happy" marriage with his wife reportedly living past the age of 100 before her own death.

Flores spoke Aymara and was illiterate. In his later years, Flores had poor vision and hearing, but did not require assistance to walk. Flores credited drinking the water from Illampu as the secret to his and his wife's longevity. Additionally, he regularly walked and had a diet of natural foods, especially barley, and specifically credited quinoa, river mushrooms, and coca leaves for his longevity.

The Bolivian government had reportedly planned to officially honor Flores as "a living heritage" of the Bolivian people.

Age

In August 2013, Flores' family provided his baptism certificate to the Civil Registry Service of La Paz so that he could receive government aid for the elderly. Birth certificates did not exist in Bolivia until 1940. Instead, births were documented by baptism records, authenticated by two witnesses. Civil registrar director Eugenio Condori said he has the baptism record but could not show it to reporters due to privacy laws. A police ID card and entry in the civil registry indicating Flores had been born on 16 July 1890, were shown to reporters. If proven, that would have made him 123 years old as of July 6 2013. The longest fully documented lifespan in history is 122 years and 164 days, achieved by Jeanne Calment.

A spokesperson for Guinness World Records said they were unaware of any longevity claim filed on Flores' behalf. One of his grandsons said the family was not familiar with the organization. The TV station that broke the story of Flores' claimed age, Red Uno, said it would organize efforts to have his age officially verified. Bolivia's General Service of Personal Identification said it would verify Flores' age through official birth records. Flores himself only said "I should be about 100 years old or more", when asked his age.

About a week after Flores' claim first became known, the Gerontology Research Group said there were several problems with his claim. The group's director, Stephen Coles, said the documents produced by Flores' family were copies, not originals. He noted that 90% of verified supercentenarians are women, and said his organization had uncovered a baptismal certificate which indicated Flores was actually 107 years old, and not 123.

References

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