Cuban court sends pastor to prison for homeschooling his children

A Cuban pastor was sentenced to a year in prison for homeschooling his children. | Pixabay/organicmom30

A Cuban court has sentenced a pastor to a year in prison on Tuesday for not sending his two children to state schools and opting to teach them at home instead.

Ramon and Adya Rigal were arrested in February for "contributing to the delinquency of minors" after they decided to homeschool their children earlier this year to "remove them from an environment where they were being bullied and indoctrinated in the state school system."

During the three-hour trial, Ramon attempted to present evidence that the children were learning, but he claimed that he was not allowed to speak in his own defense.

"I brought evidence that my children were learning-notebooks and materials-[but] they didn't care," Ramon said, according to World Net Daily.

"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 continued.

Ramon also stated that he tried to bring his witnesses to the trial, but the judge would tell them to leave the courtroom.

He contended that the trial was just a platform to denounce alternatives to state education, noting that the court relied on scripted testimonies from school officials to affirm that only trained teachers have the qualifications to instruct children about socialist values.

Mike Donnelly, the director of International Relations for Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), said he was distressed to hear about the details of the trial, but he was not surprised by the ruling.

"It was just about what one expects from the communist courts of Cuba: anything but justice," said Donnelly. "Their jurisprudence reflects a disregard for accepted principles of due process and the rule of law, as well as Cuba's international human rights obligations," he added.

Apart from Ramon's one-year prison term, the court also sentenced Adya to one year of house arrest.

Ramon said he would prefer to remain in Cuba, but he is hoping that the family would be able to take refuge in the U.S. since the Cuban authorities are determined to jail him rather than allow the children to be homeschooled.

HSLDA, a non-profit organization focusing on defending the rights of parents to direct the education of their children, has pledged to support the Rigals, and it has launched a petition calling on the Cuban government to respect the rights of the family to teach their own children at home.