It has been four months since students took to barricading streets to protest President Nicolás Maduro's populist "socialist revolution." They have faced systematic violence.
Venezuelans in Miami are growing concerned about the brutality that has weakened protesters' efforts and left about 41 dead and hundreds injured.
A group of Venezuelan-Americans and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen met at the popular restaurant El Arepazo 2, 3900 NW 79th Ave., in Doral Thursday morning. They were participating in the nationwide "Trip For Freedom" to Washington, D.C., to lobby for U.S. sanctions.
'ABUSES AND VIOLENCE'
Human right groups watching the treatment of Venezuela's dissenting force released a report Wednesday.
The report noted that opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez "has been held in pretrial detention on a military base for more than to months despite the government's failure to produce credible evidence that he committed any crime."
Their findings included government agents' attacks on journalists and "abuses against protesters and detainees." A lot of the violence was also coming from armed pro-government groups known as "colectivos."
PAINFUL STRUGGLE FOR POWER
On March 5,2013, Hugo Chavez died of cancer. He was 58.
Hundreds of Venezuelans in Miami waved their flags to mark his death, as a new beginning for their country, while leftists worldwide mourned.
As the situation grew tense with a shortage of basic goods and growing inflation, Maduro tightened his grip on journalists. Authorities held Miami Herald reporter Jim Wyss for two days and released him Nov. 9th.
When the protests began, about 1,000 people were in downtown Miami to show their support. Local 10 News was there at the time.
A few days later, on Feb. 18, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez turned himself in to authorities in Venezuela.
Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for re-election, said in Feb. 28 that he had written a letter to President Barack Obama to ask him for U.S. sanctions.
When the number of dead due to protests reached to 17 in March, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the U.S. had "to stand as a moral leader."
In April, Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio asked the Obama administration to enact sanctions, as students put pressure for sanctions in Washington, D.C.
Maduro has blamed the violence on wealthy Venezuelans operating in the shadows and has continued to attack international media.
In February, police arrested a man with links to business in Miami and called him a mercenary; months later a man who was born in Miami was accused of illegal arms dealing.
SIGNS OF SOLIDARITY
Dozens of boxes have left Miami with donations that included Ibuprofen, pampers, and even crutches.
WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY (20 minutes)Venezuelans Fight For Freedom