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Cuba released pastor who spent one year in jail for homeschooling his children

Cuba has released Christian Pastor Ramon Rigal, who spent over a year in prison for home-schooling his children. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan panel of experts that advises Congress and the federal government, issued a statement praising Rigal's release.


Rigal, who was arrested in April 2019 with his wife, Ayda Expósito, was serving a two-year term and was previously scheduled to be released in 2021. Although it’s unclear why he was granted early release, it comes as the government has released thousands of prisoners in recent months to combat the spread of coronavirus. 

The pastor’s release was confirmed by Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, a missionary who was arrested several times by the Cuban government before he and his family arrived in the U.S. as refugees in 2016. 

“You can tell all the brothers who have been praying for us that we are very grateful for your prayers and all of the support you have given us,” Rigal said in a statement shared through Barroso. “I know those prayers came to the throne of God and answered them. It’s beautiful to see how even if they don’t know me personally they have cared about me and my family, putting him into practice.′′ 

According to USCIRF, Rigal and his wife were arrested for home-schooling their children after they expressed concerns about the public schools’ promotion of socialism and atheism. 

In a March report, USCIRF detailed how Cuban authorities manipulated the legal system to “wage persistent harassment” against religious leaders. USCIRF also voiced concerns over the denial of religious freedom for human rights activists and journalists. Additionally, the report goes into detail about how the government controls religious activity and groups through a permit system. 



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