The aging population is a reality that is knocking on the country's door.

The announcement precedes him like the barking of the dog that two blocks before crossed his path and follows his trail, with very little confidence. "Cilantro, cilantro, cilantro..." The voice comes in choked on the third repetition. He gathers his strength and once again adorns his offer, as he tightens his nylon bag, and with it, he throws a burst at the impertinent canine.

Julio carries 87 years of traveling with very little baggage. He tells us that he had a son, "but he left the country a long time ago when he was a young boy and never gave any news. The old lady couldn't bear the sadness... and she took the road too, but for the upside-down delivery... I drank a lot...". For almost three decades he has been sharing his loneliness with the wooden walls of a little ranch that no longer even keeps the shadow very well.

He says he doesn't know how to stay at home because he was always one of those who broke down in some furrow, weeding bananas, sowing sweet potatoes, cleaning patios, or any honest work that guaranteed a plate of food. Now that he is no longer strong enough to do this kind of work, every day he collects the green and fragrant leaves from his courtyard and goes out to sell them so that he can get something warm to eat.

No one waits for him when he returns. Sometimes he has to carry his errands in his bag because his home near Becerra has no security and "there are a lot of bandits on the loose". So he can't walk that far... Julio Cantín's checkbook is not enough for those projects he still cherishes, not even to support his coffee habit in the mornings or the replacement of his shoes that are already showing their leather. "One day I won't open my eyes anymore and I'll be able to rest, in the meantime, I have to earn my money..."


Like Julio, reality interweaves many other names that are far from passing the third age with the necessary support. Unfortunately today the economic limitations are notorious for those who, after a life of service, reach their twilight with a checkbook that does not compete with today's demands. But it is not only material things that are lacking in the "sack"...

Marina Pereira Martínez, a lawyer from the Office of Collective Law FirmsMarina Pereira Martínez, a lawyer from the Office of Collective Law Firms, told 26 that in Cuba, the elderly are recognized as a vulnerable group and it is up to the law to institute social, economic, and labor policies to guarantee adequate quality of life and compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of 2019. These policies have constituted a process of procedural and judicial reform and have been a priority for the country's leadership.

"The role of the State is subsidiary in those situations where there is no family, or the lack of economic resources requires its intervention, hence the correlation that must exist between institutions and the home to ensure adequate protection for older adults who are considered subjects of special protection due to the set of biological, psychological and social characteristics that make them worthy of a differentiated legal treatment in our country," emphasized the specialist.

"There is no single instrument aimed at protecting them in a systemic and integrated way, but rather there are several laws that refer to the rights they enjoy to a certain extent, starting with the constitutional text."


"Our Penal Code identifies criminal actions regarding conduct contrary to the care of the elderly and explains the consequences that are generated when there is poor nutrition, malnutrition, lack of personal and bodily hygiene, low self-esteem, depression, confusion, anxiety, and loss of decision-making capacity - Pereira Martínez assures."

"The greatest recognition comes in the Family Code, which takes a closer look at the individualities that have often gone unnoticed in the eyes of the legislator. That is why it is completely new, as it dedicates a title specifically to these people."

The aging population is a reality that is knocking on the country's door.

"In this title, the rights and duties of the elderly are recorded. Here we have the right to an independent autonomous life, to choose one's place of residence, and to family life free of discrimination and violence, and it states that this segment of the population must pass on to the new generations, as far as their physical and mental capacities allow, the best values, i.e. to educate and train young people in honest principles."

"I insist that the State watches over the safety of this group, but the family plays a fundamental role and it has been endorsed that daughters, sons, and other family members have to contribute to the satisfaction of affective and care needs."

"The Code goes further and states that if the elderly person is hospitalized in a social care center, the family members must maintain the link and permanent contact with the institution, to attend whenever they are summoned, to accompany them in hospital admissions as long as there are no circumstances that prevent them from doing so."

"The new regulation offers a legal solution to situations that previously did not exist, for example, abandonment in institutions. We can now carry out different processes to enforce the rights of the elderly. And we see how all this empowers them, makes them visible as subjects of rights with full will and independence to decide their present and their future."


Miguel González Velázquez, head of the Provincial Directorate of Labor and Social Security, assures that in Las Tunas there are a total of 6,204 older adults protected with monetary benefits from social assistance, the so-called checkbook, and other support is also guaranteed.

"The first modality is the home social worker, who is a person who is paid for home care services, providing this care to 442 elderly people for eight or four hours, depending on the situation of the elderly person. Their help consists of fetching food, cooking, cleaning the house, organizing, and doing the daily chores."

The director emphasizes that his organization focuses on older adults who live alone and have no close relatives. "Those who have family members who can take care of them, we cannot support them," he says.

In the province, there are 116 units of the SAF with a total capacity of 4,127 diners."The other service we provide is food in the so-called SAF (family food service), where we have a percentage of grandparents and those who come are those who can walk, go to lunch, to eat or go only once a day and take their food with them. The first requirement for them to obtain this service is that they must be financially insolvent and that their relatives do not have the necessary means to take responsibility for them."

In the province, there are 116 units of the SAF with a total capacity of 4,127 diners, at the moment 3,286 are attending. "There are places that are less than 40 percent of full, because after the regulation there has been a transcendental change in prices, as well as in the quality and elaboration of the food," reiterated González Velázquez.

In this respect, Rody Romero Ramos, second administrator of the Unidad Empresarial de Base Nuevo Modelo, located in Las Cuarenta, in this city, assures that 140 grandparents out of a capacity of 144 attend the market framed in his entity, but he comments that "the food is regular because we not only attend the SAF but also the population in the cafeteria, so we cannot give them all our attention. We have to provide them with food and charge a much cheaper price than what it cost us on the "street," which is where we buy it.

Those who go there, according to Romero Ramos, have very difficult conditions, many come from Palancón, and they are given the possibility to take their lunch and food with them. A resident of the place said that they cook with very few spices and resources and that the food is bad, because, although they are given dishes like eggs or picadillo, they make them badly. On Father's Day, for example, they received pea stew.


González Velázquez, from the Provincial Directorate of Labor and Social Security, adds that in the case of the elderly, they are also provided with the service of grandparents' homes and old people's homes. "We have two benefits: the full amount is paid when the adult has no income or insufficient income, or the social security pays a part of it.

"The state goes as far as it can, even today, women who were housewives, who dedicated their whole lives to family care, and now do not have a pension, if those relatives are not in a position to help them, they are protected with a monetary benefit from social assistance."

"In the case that there are elderly people who participated in the revolutionary struggles and are not taken care of by the Combatants' Association, and we receive information that they live in vulnerable conditions, we make the same analysis because the law is one and has the same requirements for all, without exceptions."

"There are some cases that do not proceed because they are combatants on internationalist missions and those who are protected are those from the clandestine struggle, the struggle against bandits, from the rebel army, and we have very few of them left."


The aging population is a reality that is knocking on the country's door. If in 2019, 20.8 percent of Cubans were or had surpassed the sixth decade of life, by the end of 2022 this indicator stood at 22.3 percent, practically two percentage points more in just three years, according to the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI in Spanish).

Today the number of people aged 60 and over in Cuba stands at 2,478,087, reaffirming that we are one of the oldest countries in Latin America and that by 2050, our island will be one of the nations with the highest number of older adults.

This phenomenon is seen as the greatest demographic challenge affecting the economy, the family, services, the replacement of human capital, social security, and the high costs of medical/epidemiological care, a reality that has already caught up with us and for which neither the family, nor society, nor state institutions have yet fully prepared.

The helplessness of the elderly is a reality on Tunisian soil. Just to outline one of the saddest aspects, in the province, in the year 2022, there were 320 suicide attempts and 102 deaths due to suicide, and people over 65 years of age prevail in these statistics. So far in 2023, at the end of May, there were 24 deaths by suicide and the age group continues to contribute to the figures.

Although the new Code of Families has shed light on vital issues to ensure their duties and rights, it is still lacking an accurate grounding in our reality, as well as the interweaving of all institutions to define the material and affective deficiencies of this age group, to whom we owe our existence out of sheer gratitude.
Daudelio Torres shows his face, there in Cuatro Caminos, behind a bust in honor of a local martyr. It is not difficult to find him. He has a little wooden house there that he built himself. He talks vehemently about life, about loneliness and sadness, while the scab of his 83 years crusts his every word.

Daudelio Torres Vargas

His almost white gaze is moistened by the obligatory recounting: "Time is no fun, I no longer have the vitality I used to have... This hernia is going to explode at any moment (he roughly palpates the left side of his abdomen). I was a combatant in the Revolution, I worked all my life and I was never a man to sit with my arms folded.

"I live alone and I do everything myself. I earn my money by working hard, doing whatever I can, because I don't have a checkbook and things are so difficult that I understand that my children can't help me because sometimes they don't even have enough for themselves."

Those who know him say that he worked informally for almost 70 years and was a "pack mule". He has five children and divorced his wife five decades ago. He never remarried. The last time this press team tracked him down, he was near Maceo Park with a bunch of mangoes to take to his eldest daughter, "because the situation is tough and you have to help the family."