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Lower restrictions: U.S. nearer to lift ban on tourist travel to Cuba by americans.

An undated family photo of Alan Gross with wife Judy. Alan is U.S. contractor and was arrested in Cuba on Dec. 3. He has been held at Havana's high-security Villa Marista jail without charge for allegedly supplying communication equipment to members of Cuba's tiny Jewish community. (Credit: AP Photo/Family HO)

The White House issued an executive order last Friday loosening restrictions on U.S. travel and money remittances to Cuba, a further step in the Obama Administration to reach out to the cuban people of the communist-ruled country.

These latest actions of President Obama,  are aimed at developing “people-to-people” contacts by allowing more travel for american college professors and students, artists and church groups. The news measures stop short of lifting the U.S. ban on american tourist travel to Cuba.

The regulatory changes also allow the airlines and all U.S. international airports to apply to service licensed charter flights to Cuba.

In addition, the executive order of president Obama allow “any U.S. person to send remittances -up to $500 a quarter-  to non-family members in Cuba to support private economic activity.”  This decission has a limitation: they remittances cannot  go to senior Cuban government officials or senior members of the Cuban Communist Party.

The intentions of the american administration is to support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities,” the White House said in a statement.

“The president believes these actions, combined with the continuation of the embargo, are important steps in reaching the widely shared goal of a Cuba that respects the basic rights of all its citizens.”

In Havana, the Cuban government nor any official issued any comment and/or reaction to the new U.S. executive order.