Whatever benefit the Castro dictatorship thought it might enjoy when it allowed dissidents like Yoani Sanchez and Rosa Maria Paya to travel overseas remains a mystery -- especially considering the positive response they have received and the yet-to-be tested willingness of the regime to let them back into Cuba.
But it is hard to imagine that the dictatorship worked into its calculations the powerful message that the world travelers, especially Paya, have delivered to new audiences. They are more well known than ever before.
In Paya's case, in a few short weeks she has won international support for her call for an independent investigation of the deaths of her father Oswaldo Paya, head of the Christian Liberation Movement, and another activist, Harold Cepero, in a car crash last year in Cuba.
Only 24 years old, she already has proven herself a new leader in the struggle for Cuban freedom.
The latest to endorse her campaign was a bipartisan group of U.S. senators.
“Oswaldo Payá was a brave man trying to peacefully advocate for greater political freedom for his fellow Cuban brothers and sisters,” the senators said in a letter to the the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States. “It increasingly looks like he paid for that effort with his life. His memory and his family deserve an honest and independent accounting of what happened. We urge the Commission to undertake this investigation without delay.”
The only response the regime has had to Paya's message was a thuggish, and ultimately failed attempt to block her from addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Of course, it remains possible that the regime only let Paya and Sanchez and other dissidents leave Cuba so that it could keep them from returning, to starve the opposition of their example and their leadership.
But more likely is that the Castros never guessed that a young woman -- whether a blogger like a Sanchez or a daughter in mourning like Paya -- could expose the ugly truth about the regime, and that the world would believe them.