Perhaps Raul Castro's most highly touted "reform" has been the lifting of limits on the ability of most -- but not all -- Cubans to travel overseas.
However, the independent journalist and activist Guillermo Farinas, the latest prominent dissident to take advantage of this change, is not convinced. He used his arrival at Miami International Airport on Sunday afternoon to dismiss the notion that the Castro dictatorship is instituting anything new.
The changes are "cosmetic," said Farinas, a veteran of numerous hunger strikes against the regime. "The repression is very strong."
Eventually, Farinas' travels will take him to Europe, where he will finally be able to receive the Sahkarov human rights prize he was awarded in 2010 but has been unable to accept because of the Castro regime's prior limits on his ability to go overseas.
Farinas is one of the giants of the Cuban opposition, repeatedly laying his life on the line on behalf of his fellow activists.
In 2010, Farinas marked the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo after a lengthy hunger strike by starting his own hunger strike to demand the release of seriously ill political prisoners. His protest almost killed him.
Hunger strikes against the Castro regime are usually futile, but Farinas' protest, along with Zapata's death, were key in the regime's decision that summer to release dozens of the island's most prominent political prisoners.
When it comes to the lifting of the ability of Cubans to travel overseas, Farinas may be wrong, the change is much more than cosmetic. Because it has allowed Farinas and other prominent dissidents -- from Yoani Sanchez to Antonio Rodiles to Rosa Maya Paya and many others -- a new platform and new audiences for their anti-Castro messages. Each has raised their stature, and that of the entire opposition.
The dictatorship probably didn't count on that, but it wouldn't be the first time that Farinas and the others have proven it wrong.