The Cuban Communist authorities have repeatedly denied that they hold political prisoners, labelling them mercenaries paid by the United States to undermine the system. Yet this mass release of political detainees, by one of the world last remaining Communist dictatorships should be seen as a significant concession to sustained international pressure over human rights, and it should have some positive effects in relation to better relations with both the US and Europe.
However, it is important to remember that Cuba is still a Communist dictatorship that badly needs free democratic elections along with the lifting of the trade embargo that has done little but bring much hardship to the ordinary long suffering Cuban people.
No doubt, when the Communist dictatorship collapse and a free democratic Cuba emerges I have not doubt that we will discover that senior Party members have lived pretty high on the hog over the years - as was the case in East German and the Old Soviet Union.
The record of Human Rights violations despite Communist denials will I don't doubt turn out to have been far worse than we previously imagined. Despite that dark thought - the news of the staggered release of political prisoners is still a positive step forward, and hopefully all of the political prisoners will soon be free.