Two parents have been summoned to court this week in Cuba.
Their crime? Homeschooling.
While President Obama re-established diplomatic relations with the communist regime, the hoped-for improvement in human rights hasn’t materialized. And the demand that Ramón and Adya Rigal appear in Guantanamo District Court because they educated their children at home is not a good sign, according to experts.
Article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that parents have the right to choose how to educate their children, but Cuba’s national law still states “education is a function of the state” and outlines what everyone must learn at a “minimum.”
The Home School Legal Defense Association is defending the Rigals, who are trying to get additional attention from President Trump’s administration as well as Cuba’s highest authorities.
The parents are scheduled to be in court Tuesday to face criminal charges for homeschooling their children, ages 8 and 11.
“We will appear and defend our rights that are protected by the Cuban constitution and treaties that Cuba has signed,” said Ramón, who is also a pastor, in a statement released through HSLDA. “The authorities have not acknowledged this, but we will stand on these rights.”
Mike Donnelly, the director of global outreach for HSLDA, which is the world’s premiere homeschooling organization, said it’s a simple matter of international law that parents have the right “to choose the kind of education their children shall receive.”
The U.N.’s declaration even recognizes it as a “prior” right that is higher than others.
“When parents choose to home educate their children they are exercising their own right as well as taking on the responsibility to provide an education for their children,” he said. “There is no human rights framework or treaty that recognizes that an education must be provided by government-controlled schools.”
HSLDA is asking supporters to sign an online petition directed to the Cuban embassy in Washington that declares: “A society that forces children to learn only in public school is totalitarian. The right of people to establish private schools and to homeschool is a minimum expectation in a free nation. As Cuban-U.S. relations are normalized, we must ensure that this right is upheld.”
The petitions calls on Cuba to immediately acknowledge the “right of parents to homeschool their children and stop its mistreatment of the Rigal family.”
HSLDA reported the parents are facing up to eight years in prison, fines and the seizure of their children.
While they already have begun the process to seek asylum in the U.S., they have “not received any formal response other than an…