South Fla. Venezuelans protest outside White House

Protestors call trip from South Fla. to Washington, D.C. a success

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of South Floridians protesting the Venezuelan government and the injustices in that country accomplished their mission Friday of protesting outside of the White House.

The protestors had the chance to meet with local congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Protestors called the trip a success. On the bus ride up to Washington, D.C. they were determined to pressure lawmakers for a sanctions against the Venezuelan government.

Imagine their surprise when word came that a bill in the House cleared its first vote.

The group that gathered on the Hill said lawmakers expressed their support, but cautioned a lot can still happen in Venezuela.

As for the group Local 10 traveled with from South Florida, they left the White House for a second march before boarding a bus back home.

The protest had an element of joy. Outside the gates of the White House hundreds of Venezuelan exiles celebrated a sanctions bill that passed a House committee Friday.

Everyone's attention now turns to getting broader support for the measure, should it get to the floor for a vote.

They stood along Pennsylvania Avenue -- once strangers but now part of a family, proud Venezuelans from South Florida who spent 30 hours together with Local 10 on a bus, sharing their stories and their dreams of a better life back home.

"I'm very hopeful and I think we have to think for the best," said Ryna Castillo. "We know we're right and we're fighting for human rights. Our kids are having a very rough time and they've violated many, many laws."

"Other opponents believe we should wait and see what the peace process can resolve," said Ros-Lehtine. "Well, I ask when is it a good time? How many more people have to be innocently killed for the time to be right?"

Lawmakers on the Hill want the sanctions, but the White House said not now. Obama administration officials warn acting now could harm negotiations between Nicolás Maduro's government and leaders of the opposition group, a point opposition leaders said is nonsense.

"We were asking for the freedom for the political prisoners and we're still in jail," said Noemi Peschard.