The first seven of a group of 52 dissidents to be freed by Cuba have boarded a flight for Spain to start a new life in exile.
They were taken by bus to Havana airport where they were reunited with relatives who are leaving with them.
The release is part of a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and Spanish diplomats.
One of the dissidents on the list to be freed is Pedro Arguelles who spoke from prison with the famous Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez.
“This is my place to go on fighting in favour of the rights and liberties of human dignity,” he said.
“Here is where I want to be, in the first line of the fight against the totalitarian Castro regime.”
Arguelles is one of three prisoners reported to have told the Church that they wish to remain in Cuba.
The release coincides with an appearance on Cuban state television by former president Fidel Castro.
The 83-year-old, who handed power over to his younger brother Raul in 2006 due to ill health appeared relaxed and alert.
During the interview he covered topics ranging from the Middle East to North Korea but omitted to mention the release deal.