DORAL (CBSMiami) – Dozens of Venezuelan-Americans gathered in Doral Thursday morning to board buses bound for Washington D.C. where they hope to pressure Congress and the White House to crack down on Venezuela’s government which they call a dictatorship.

“We’re here as Venezuelans outside of the country fighting for the country because they’re doing their job and we have to do ours,” said Natalia Tovar.

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The Doral contingent will be joined in the nation’s capital by thousands of Venezuelans from across the country in an effort to make their voices heard at rallies and one on one meetings with lawmakers on Friday.

Tovar left Venezuela when she was 12-years old, but every day she hears about the struggles her family members and friends face in her home country.

“I have no food. I had to go to four supermarkets to get my basic needs. Somebody got killed, somebody got kidnapped,” said Tovar.

More than 40 people have died in protests against Venezuela’s food shortages and alleged political repression of President Nicholas Maduro’s socialist government. The protests began last February.  The non-profit Human Rights Watch group Maduro’s government has committed human rights violations.

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“It’s gotten to the point where there’s no point of return,” said Tovar.

Tovar said their mission in Washington is to push Congress to pass a bill that would sanction Venezuela’s government and further isolate the current regime. The bill would also make a symbolic statement.

“(It would) recognize Venezuela as a dictatorship, which it is,” said Tovar.

Tovar said she feels the U.S. is mostly ignoring the plight of her home country. She argues that what happens there affects us all.

“The U.S. has turned its focus from communism but communism is in our backyard and they should really open up their eyes because it’s becoming an epidemic,” said Tovar.

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