A Cuban evangelical pastor was sentenced to prison because he removed his kids from the state-run communist schools to homeschool them. Homeschooling advocates are calling upon the Trump administration to grant them asylum in the United States.
A crowd of two dozen people protested outside the Embassy of Cuba in Washington in 95-degree heat Wednesday in support of Pastor Ramon Rigal, who on April 25 was sentenced to one year in prison for the “crime” of homeschooling his own kids in the communist island nation. Rigal’s wife, Adya, was sentenced to a year of house arrest.
The group attempted to deliver a CitizenGo petition signed by nearly 31,000 people demanding better of the Cuban government. Embassy officials refused to receive them and turned them away.
Mike Donnelly, an attorney and director of global outreach for the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association, decried the Cuban government’s actions.
The right to homeschool children is “a human right that is recognized around the world as a fundamental human right,” Donnelly said.
“And Cuba has signed international treaties acknowledging this fact,” he added, noting that in 2008 the island nation signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which recognizes the role of parents having the ability to conform the education of their children to their religious beliefs and philosophical convictions.
The Cuban government schools indoctrinate the nation’s children in creeds fundamentally opposed to the Christian faith, like atheism and Marxism.
Yet when the Rigal family took their kids out of the school they were harassed by the authorities and threatened. In February, the Rigals were arrested. In April, they were put on trial where Ramon’s witnesses were not allowed to give testimony.
Donnelly and his group called on the U.S. government for the Rigal’s to be granted political asylum in the United States, where homeschooling is a protected right.
Will Estrada, director of federal relations for HSLDA, said that if the Cuban government continues to repress Christians the Trump administration should “tear-up the normalization of relations that the Obama administration did and change things.”
“We should not be rewarding a communist country if they continue to crack down on religious minorities,” he said.
Though the Internet is highly restricted, Rigal somehow managed to make online contact with the HSLDA and the group is now actively advocating for him.
THE CHRISTIAN POST