The Parents of the Venezuelan Victim of the Florida Massacre: Our Battle Against Weapons Is Forever

The Parents of the Venezuelan Victim of the Florida Massacre: Our Battle Against Weapons Is Forever

PABLO DE LLANO | LaPatilla and Caracas Chronicles

The relatives of the student Joaquín Oliver, who died in Parkland and of Hispanic-Venezuelan nationality, call to fight for the regulation of the sale of weapons, Sad, Powerful, Piece published by El País

Joaquín Oliver Padauy lived 17 years and had three nationalities.  Venezuelan by birth, American by roots and Spanish by inheritance of his grandmother of Bilbao, whose family fled from Spain to America during the Civil War.    

“My mother remembered the bombings,” says Manuel Oliver Urbano, 50, a broken father, in the inner courtyard of his house.  The last basketball shoes bought by Joaquín, deceased in the Parkland massacre on February 14, are on his feet.

“From now on, parents have to wear our children’s shoes to fight for them,” says Manuel.  “We have to become our children.  To those of us who made the decision not to stop being parents the same day this happened, that we understand – that one is here for their children until the day one dies and not until the child leaves, we have no choice but to join to the children who protest against arms and raise their voices.  It is our battle forever.”

“We need support and the world knows.  We need this to be contagious, to follow this flame, “says Patricia Padauy, 51, Joaquín’s mother, dressed in black and with a brooch with her son’s photo on her chest.  “We are going to cry, we are going to suffer and sad we are going to be, but we have to go further so that this does not continue happening.”  The boy’s family is receiving a flood of support from neighbors and friends of Joaquin, and also from abroad.  Thousands of people came to offer their condolences at the funeral home.  Patricia has received a message from a girl who studies in Sydney.

The Oliver Padauy detached house is located in an urbanization of the city of Coral Springs, bordering Parkland, just a few minutes from the site of the tragedy, the Stoneman Douglas Institute.  It is a neighborhood that conveys calm, wooded, green surfaces where Joaquín grew as a child, says Manuel, “extremely happy” to be the teenager “noble, with feelings of skin and charismatic” that was when he crossed his destination disturbed with an assault rifle.

At school he was known as Guac, because it was not easy for Parkland kids to pronounce Joaquín.  He was a music lover who did not go out in the morning without his headphones.  Fan of the rapper Frank Ocean, he had dyed his hair blonde for his last album, Blonde, and had blown music since he was little by the influence of Manuel, now creative director of blues musician Joe Bonamassa.  “From the age of three or four he would put bands like Los Ramones in the car,” recalls his father.  His other passion was sport.  I played basketball and was excited about football.  “You do not know how happy he was when I can get his Spanish passport; among other things because I already had someone to go to in the World Cup.  For the first time I could raise a flag with property.”

“He wanted to know Europe, Spain, Bilbao, the land of his grandmother, which was also his land,” says his father.  “He took the issue of Spanish nationality very seriously and was very motivated by the idea of ​​living for a few years in Europe.  But we did not have a chance,” he laments.  Joaquin’s parents talk about their son wrapped in a small circle of intimates, sitting in simple outdoor chairs under the portable basket in which Joaquin launched and with the ball, so worn by his hands, at his side.  The ball will be with them and with Andrea, Joaquin’s sister, when they get together for the family portrait.

The three identities coexisted in the boy with perfect coupling.  “He was a young American, totally adapted to the culture of his country, but never leaving his roots and customs behind,” explains Manuel.  “His main language was Spanish.  He spoke perfectly, and not for us, but because he himself decided that he wanted to continue speaking in Spanish.”  “He believes that he always identified himself as a member of a minority and was very concerned about the rights of minorities.”

Overcoming the pain, Manuel remembers the day of the tragedy: “It was the day of Friendship and Valentine’s Day.  I took him to school.  He got off with some flowers for his girlfriend.  I said: “Goodbye, I love you”, and he said: “Chao, daddy, I love you”.  “He got off my car with the bouquet.  That is my last image.”

Joaquín Oliver did not tell his parents what concrete thing he wanted to be in this life.  I expressed to them in the abstract that I wanted to “be something big”.  “Let people know about me.  Change the things”.  Manuel states that he affirmed “with total security and conviction,” and adds: “I am beginning to understand what he meant.  Suddenly Joaquin had a plan that was in another plane of understanding.”

The movement against weapons born in Parkland has 17 victims to honor and Guac is one of them.  “We have to make sure there is a real debate,” his father claims.  “This is a victory announced.  When a system delays the debates, it is because it knows that it is going to lose them.  The system is allowing this to happen.  The system is guilty.  And we’re going to change that.”

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/25/2018 at 1:20 am

    3 Reasons Why Millions Still Support Trump

    They’re standing by their man, even as he fails to live up to his promises.
    Paul Buchheit / AlterNet

    Based on various trusted sources and a dab of cognitive science, it’s fair to conclude that there are three main reasons for this unlikely phenomenon.

    1. Trump’s Followers Believe They’re Better Than Other People

    Nationalism, Exceptionalism, Narcissism, Racism. They’re all part of the big picture, although it’s unfair to simply dismiss Trump people as ignorant racists.

    Many of them are well-educated and wealthy. But well-to-do individuals tend to feel entitled, superior, uninterested in the people they consider beneath them, and less willing to support the needs of society. Thus many wealthy white Americans are just fine with Trump’s disdain for the general population.

    Poorer whites also feel superior, in the sense that they’re reluctant to give up their long-time self-assigned position at the top of the racial hierarchy.

    Trump and the Republicans do not seem to care at all about poor people, especially people of color.

    It’s nearly beyond belief that they’d allow a father to be torn away from his family after living in the U.S.A. for 30 years; that they’d allow tens of thousands of Americans to sleep outside in sub-zero weather; or that they’d ignore the women and children being blown up by our bombs in Yemen.

    2. They’re Driven by Hatred for Their Perceived Enemies

    According to an ancient proverb, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. For many besieged Americans, the friend is Donald Trump, the enemy of his followers’ enemies, based on his belligerent put-downs of so many target groups that have been recklessly blamed for America’s problems.

    Trump has been against a ‘lying’ media, ‘job-stealing’ immigrants, ‘business-stifling’ environmentalists, ‘elites’ like Hillary Clinton who are thought to look down on struggling middle-class whites, and the LGBTQ community and pro-abortion groups, which threaten the religious right’s ‘traditional’ values to a point they consider much worse than Trump’s moral depravity.

    Their greatest enemy may be the traditional politician, who has allowed the middle class to falter. Trump is unconventional, different from anyone before him. As long as their president is disrupting the status quo, change is happening, and any change, his supporters believe, is likely to defeat one or more of their enemies.

    3. They Refuse to Admit They Were Wrong

    In fact, the more they’re proven wrong, the stronger their resolve. This is called cognitive dissonance. It’s common for conservatives to construct their personal beliefs on a moral basis, to adhere to them in the face of any controversy, and if necessary to reshape the evidence to fit these beliefs. Many conservatives continue to fall for Trump’s hyperbole about a “booming” economy and new jobs and better times to come.

    Conservatives even tend to believe that inequality is part of the natural order, and that any attempt to change it is senseless.

    Cognitive dissonance kicks in for them when they are confronted with the overwhelming evidence for a collapsing middle class. Rather than re-evaluating their beliefs, they go to the other extreme and defend the widening fracture in U.S. society as a natural consequence of an imagined meritocracy.

    Incredibly, according to one poll, in 2014 only 5 percent of the U.S.A. population believed that the government should be addressing inequality.

    So Now What?

    In his rebuttal to Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) said, “This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us; they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.”

    …that we are all worthy of protection. That will only happen with a progressive candidate who believes that a strong society makes successful individuals, not the other way around.

    Paul Buchheit is the author of “Disposable Americans” (2017). He is an advocate for social and economic justice. His essays, videos, and poems can be found at

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