Venezuelans from Miami show solidarity in Washington, D.C.

Congressional panel passes bill that would impose economic sanctions on accused human right violators

By Brian Ely , Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of Venezuelan-Americans and Venezuelan migrants from South Florida were protesting Friday night in Washington, D.C., as news about 243 protesters who were arrested in Caracas continued to flow on social media.

The students and families took two days off to join the nationwide political show of force, known in social media as the "Trip For Freedom" or "Caravana Por La Libertad." For months, they have been using the "SOS Venezuela" hash tag to raise worldwide awareness on their political crisis.

They often talked about the 41 who died and the hundreds who have been injured in the last four months of protests against President Nicolas Maduro's administration. But when news that a congressional panel passed a bill that could impose U.S. sanctions on accused Venezuelan human rights violators, the group cheered.

Some shouted: "Que viva Venezuela," Spanish for long live Venezuela.

UPDATE FROM VENEZUELA:  Creator of the "SOS Venezuela" campaign was detained Wednesday and released on probation late Friday night.

COVERING CONGRESS: Learn about the Florida lawmakers' effort, watch videos of their congressional speeches and download experts' testimony

Live coverage: Local 10 News team travels with group

LATEST UPDATE: Local 10 News reporter Carlos Suarez and photojournalist Brian Ely joined the group on a road trip that started in west Miami-Dade early Thursday morning and ended in Washington, D.C., Friday morning. The group continued to decry human right abuses and visit lawmakers.

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On Twitter: Follow photojournalist

As news of another crackdown on student protests in Caracas spread, Venezuelan and U.S. flags brought from South Florida were waved in front of the White House and also in front of Capitol Hill, the Organization of American States and other iconic sites.

Watch video: Reporter Carlos Suarez's evening report from the White House

The Local 10 News team spotted President Barack Obama's Marine One, as it passed over them on the North  Lawn.

Watch video: Instagram post about 6:40 p.m.

MORNING JOURNEY: The Friday morning sun hit their white bus at Fayetteville, North Carolina. Some woke up to pray for the 41 who died during the last four months of protests. Hours later in Virginia, they sang the Venezuelan anthem. And just in time for lunch, they cheered when the bus crossed into Washington, D.C.

Watch video: Reporter Carlos Suarez's morning report

Watch video: Travelers sing Venezuelan national anthem

View photos: Local 10 News photojournalist Brian Ely captures patriotism of trip

THURSDAY'S ROAD TRIP: One of the buses traveling northbound to Washington, D.C.,  from South Florida had mechanical issues. This and other delays divided the about 300 people in a caravan that departed early Thursday morning from the restaurant El Arepazo 2. The popular meeting spot was in the west Miami-Dade city known as "Dorazuela" for having the highest percentage of Venezuelan residents in the country.

Complete coverage: Multimedia reports on the Thursday trip.

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