By: Krystle Crossman
Cuba is very strict on their education system and how it is run. It is illegal for parents to homeschool their children. They feel that homeschooling is run based on a “capitalist foundation” so they have banned it in the country, even if it is better for some families that traditional schooling. Pastor Ramón Rigal found out just how serious the Cuban government was about banning homeschooling after he was placed under arrest and then sentenced to a year in prison for teaching his children at home. His case is currently being handled by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
Rigal and his wife got a visit from officers on February 21st, 2017 at their home. They begged them not to arrest them in front of their children and that they would come down to the station as soon as they could, which they did. They were both arrested at the station. A month prior they had received a letter from the Municipal Office of Education that stated that they could face charges for keeping their children absent from public schooling and that homeschooling was not considered to be a valid education option. Rigal’s wife was given a year of house arrest as a sentence while he is to spend a year in prison. He stated that he was not allowed to present any evidence at the trial. He had books and notebooks that showed that his children were learning but they didn’t want to hear anything from him. He was not allowed to speak at his own trial.
After the trial had taken place the HSLDA gathered groups together and held a rally. This included members from CitizensGo, the Hispanic Leadership Fund, and Concerned Women for America. They were protesting home homeschooling families were treated in the country. They even had a petition that had over 30,000 signatures on it to have homeschooling become a normal education option but the Cuban embassy would not even look at it.
Rigal’s wife is upset because she does not want to spend an entire year away from her husband, and rightly so. She said that their church needed their pastor and their kids needed their father. At this time there are no plans for appeals or a release for Rigal. The HSLDA is doing what they can from America to try and help the Rigals and other families like theirs who are affected by this law.