Homeschooling activists are planning to gather at the Cuban Embassy on Wednesday to protest the jailing of a Cuban pastor who refused to send his children to state schools and chose to teach them at home instead.
In April, Pastor Ramon Rigal was sentenced by a Cuban court to a year in prison for homeschooling his children. The court also sentenced his wife, Adya, to a year of house arrest, The Christian Post reported.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has partnered with CitizenGo and other national leaders to rally at the Cuban embassy in Washington on May 17 to protest Cuba's treatment of the Rigals and other homeschooling parents.
"Americans care about what happens to people in Cuba," said Mike Donnelly, director of Global Outreach at HSLDA. "If Cuba is going to have normal relations with the United States, then the Cuban government should know that homeschooling is an option that must be allowed," he added.
Other speakers that are expected to attend the rally include Will Estrada, Director of Federal Relations for HSLDA; Gregory Mertz, U.S. Campaigns Director for CitizenGo; Mario H. Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund; and Mario Diaz, Legal Counsel for Concerned Women for America.
The Rigals reportedly made the decision to homeschool their children because they were being bullied in public schools, and they were also being introduced to ideas that contradicted the family's values. The parents were promptly arrested and put on trial on the basis that homeschooling has a "capitalist foundation."
During the trial, Ramon was reportedly prohibited from speaking in his own defense. He said that the judge threatened to remove him from the courtroom if he continued to present his evidence or say that the government is acting unfairly. The family is now appealing the decision, but they are also seeking asylum in the United States.
"[W]e live each day with fear that they may separate us," said Ramon in an email to HSLDA. "With these people, dialogue is nonexistent. They are not even interested in whether or not they are violating laws. They want to impose what they wish. . . . They show one face to the world, while in truth, the harsh reality is something different," he added.
HSLDA has vowed to support the Rigals, and it has launched a petition asking the Cuban Embassy in the U.S. to recognize that homeschooling is a fundamental right of all families.