The Cuban government has loosened travel restrictions on some of the island’s best-known dissidents, granting them one-time permission to travel abroad ahead of Barack Obama’s trip to the island, according to activists.

Obama has said his 21-22 March trip to Havana is designed to push the Cuban government to improve conditions for its people. Critics say Obama is rewarding the Cuban government despite its refusal to give citizens the ability to freely vote for their leaders and exercise their rights to free speech and assembly.

Members of a group of 11 dissidents imprisoned during the 2003 crackdown known as the Black Spring said Wednesday that officials have told seven of them that they will be free to travel one time as a reward for good behavior. Four, more politically active members of the group remain unable to travel, the dissidents said.

Activist Marta Beatriz Roque said that she and six other former prisoners were contacted by Cuban immigration officials on Sunday and told to report to state offices the following day. There, they were told that they would be able to travel overseas once and return to Cuba.

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