Photo by Wilberth Villalobos,, February 2015

Q COSTA RICA – One of the oldest people in the world, Costa Rican Maria Francisca Isolina “Panchita” Castillo Carrillo, a possible descendant of the Cuban family Maceo, died at 110, on December 20, in her house in Nicoya, an area of Costa Rica declared Blue Zone for the high amount of centenarians.

The news of Panchita’s passing came from Jorge Vindas, a field researcher focused on centenarians and nonagenarians. ‘A few minutes ago her granddaughter Magdalena Mendoza phoned me to give me the sad news that my dear and exceptional Panchita died,’ said Vindas, who visited Panchita frequently in her house in Nicoya.

“After taking a bath, she took her regular hot corn drink and just died,’ said Vindas, who thanked Panchita ‘for 12 years of smiles and shared stories, for all her affection and blessings,” added Vindas.

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Among the stories, Panchita told him she was descended from the Cuban family Maceo, the same of Lt. General José Antonio de la Caridad Maceo y Grajales, the second-in-command of the Cuban Army of Independence war against Spain.

Panchita, born on November 3rd, 1906, in Matina de La Mansion de Nicoya, is the daughter of Tomás Castillo Armas, an unrecognized brother Antonio Maceo.

Tomás Castillo, arrived in Costa Rica at the end of the 19th century along with approximately 100 Cuban families, to which the Costa Rican government provided them the opportunity settle in an area known as “La Mansión de los Cubanos”.

Panchita with her family. Photo from La Nacion, January 2014

According Vindas, there is no “scientific” data linking Panchita to “Los Maceo” Cubans, but Panchita’s father always “made himself known” as the brother of Antonio Maceo’s father.

Vindas says he met Panchita 12 years ago in a nursing home, and with absolute lucidity told him many stories among which was, of course, her “sanguine” connection with the bravest of the Maceo, who was also living in Costa Rica.

After a short stay in Haiti, where he was pursued by the Spanish and faced assassination attempts by the Spanish consulates, and also in Jamaica, Maceo eventually settled in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste. The president of Costa Rica assigned Maceo to a military unit and provided him with a small farm to live on. Maceo was contacted by José Martí and urged to initiate the War of 1895, called by Martí the “necessary war”. See the Cuban War of Independence.

From the February 16, 2015 “Tributo a Panchita: una de las personas más longevas del mundo” Panchita: “At 108 years old, Panchita is still able-minded, eats everything and even dances. Proudly she mentioned that during the recent fiestas in Hojancha she danced to the sound of the marimba. But above all, Panchita is famous for her blessings that she learned as a girl, which she still joyfully shares with those who ask for them”.

The report said Panchita never married, she says that in her time were very machista, and after drinking, they would beat women. “I don’t get married nor do I get together [with anyone for a long time]. They would hit me once, but not twice.” She explained that she would “leave fleeing” any time a man would hit her. She had five children – Pablo, Ramon, Calixto, Israel and Marcos.


Article first appeared on QCOSTARICA. Click here to go to the source article.