A Cuban pastor has been sentenced to one year in prison for homeschooling his children after a government prosecutor said homeschooling “is not allowed in Cuba because it has a capitalist foundation,” says the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
Mike Donnelly, director of international relations for HSLDA, tells Breitbart News that while Cuban pastor Ramón Rigal and his wife Adya would prefer to remain in their country, they are requesting asylum from the United States.
HSLDA – which offers legal assistance to homeschooling families – is asking its members and others to sign a petition that lets Cuba know sending parents to jail for homeschooling is unacceptable.
Rigal and his wife were arrested in February and charged with “contributing to the delinquency of minors for failing to send their children to state schools,” Donnelly writes in a column at the HSLDA website.
“They would not let me speak in my defense,” Donnelly says Rigal reported to him after his trial. “I brought evidence that my children were learning—notebooks and materials—[but] they didn’t care.”
“When I tried to tell the judge about my evidence or to say that the government was acting unfairly, the judge told me that if I continued to speak she would have me removed from the courtroom,” he added. “Whenever I tried to bring up one of my witnesses, the judge would tell them to ‘get out of here.’”
The Rigals were given three days to appeal the decision, but the couple and HSLDA are facing difficulties obtaining attorneys willing to take on the Cuban government.
“Communist governments do not appreciate lawyers who are willing to defend people whose human rights have been violated,” Donnelly writes.
Donnelly says the Obama administration claimed that normalizing relations with Cuba would lead to greater benefits for its citizens.
“Although Cuba is a communist country, it has signed international human rights treaties which require respects for parental decisions regarding how children are educated,” he further explains. “This is not a very promising sign.”
“Policies that totally prohibit or impose undue burdens on parents home education are antithetical to the kind of pluralism and civil society that is needed in free societies,” Donnelly adds.
HSLDA is asking the Trump administration to use its influence to assist this family and to communicate with Cuba that such behavior is not acceptable.