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June 29, 2017

Could Trump’s New Cuba Policy Keep Homeschooling Father out of Jail?

Mike Donnelly by Mike Donnelly HSLDA Director of Global Outreach


Ramón and Adya Rigal have been sentenced, but are appealing their conviction. We are asking our members and friends to join us by signing a petition to the Cuban government to respect the rights of parents to homeschool their children and to cease its prosecution of the Rigal family.


On July 5th, the day after Americans celebrate independence, a Cuban pastor and his wife could lose their own liberty for the crime of homeschooling.

Ramón and Adya Rigal are scheduled to appear before an appeals court to argue why they should not be punished for teaching their children at home.

Ramón has been sentenced to a year in prison. Adya was ordered to spend a year under house arrest.

On Wednesday Ramón emailed me with a dire prediction regarding his appeal.

“Today I talked to my lawyers, and I know they will not offer a good defense,” he wrote. “They will not respond to international complaints, cancel the trial and withdraw their accusations because they are not interested in human rights. Here, they do what they want.”

He added: “They continue to submit my family to psychological pressure that is part of their policy.”

In other words, unless someone does something, Pastor Ramón is going to jail.

Focus on Human Rights

A change in U.S. policy may offer some hope.

President Donald Trump recently announced that he will condition U.S. relations with Cuba on that country’s respect for human rights.

As the world’s leading free nation, it is appropriate for the United States to exert national influence and diplomatic authority to encourage nations we have relations with to respect the basic rights of their own people. Among these rights should be the freedom of parents to direct their children’s education.

The willingness of a nation to recognize the authority and responsibility of parents to direct the education of their children is clearly established in the United States and in international human rights laws. In 2008, Cuba signed treaties that obligate it to respect these rights.

A country’s treatment of homeschooling is a barometer of that nation’s commitment to true freedom. A state that forces children to learn state-approved values in state-run schools is tyrannical and totalitarian.

Cuba can demonstrate its willingness to improve its treatment of citizens by allowing the Rigal family to either homeschool their children or to freely leave the country.

The Trump Administration can demonstrate its commitment to freedom by bringing the matter to the attention of Cuban diplomatic and governing authorities and requesting they act favorably to the Rigal family.

You can still sign our petition to the Cuban government to respect the rights of Pastor Rigal and his family.

Read Ramon’s latest statement in English>>

Read Ramon’s latest statement in Spanish>>