PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba -- The 24-year-old volunteer shows off the seven computers sitting on wooden desks under a painting of Saint Juan Bosco in a small, 6- by 10-foot cement room at the back of the church.
Adalberto Malagon has taken several classes here. He learned how to write book reports on Word and crop photos using Photoshop. But what he really wants to learn is how to surf the Web.
Like many young Cubans, Rojas is frustrated that he cant access Facebook and Google like his peers around the world.
Were ready, he said. We have so much culture and education in Cuba. There are many Third World countries with much less culture and education than Cuba that have had the Internet for many years.
That may not come for years. Cuba, with its authoritarian communist government in control of the Web, has the lowest Internet-penetration rate in the Western Hemisphere, with just 16 percent of its population online. Even earthquake ravaged Haiti, the hemispheres poorest country, has a higher percentage of its people on the Internet.
In Cuba, only government officials and foreigners can set up the Internet in their homes, and the vast majority of Cubans cant afford the fees charged at tourist hotels, where an hour of Internet equals about a quarter of the average Cubans monthly salary.
Think about it, said David Gonzalez, 20, who sometimes sneaks onto the Internet at the hotel where his mother works. For $5 an hour, its not worth it.
Since taking over the presidency from his ailing brother Fidel, Raul Castro has moved to liberalize the countrys economy. Hes slowly introducing modern technology. In 2008, islanders first received the right to have private cellphones.
But the government has been more cautious with the World Wide Web. An undersea fiber-optic cable now connecting Cuba and Venezuela will increase the countrys bandwidth, but service has yet to begin.
The Cuban government is concerned about the online potential for dissent and social mobilization, according to experts such as William LeoGrande, a Latin America specialist and dean of the American University School of Public Affairs in Washington.
The government feels confident that it has control of the traditional dissident community, LeoGrande said, but its less familiar with the techniques of a new crop of younger dissidents whove been inspired by the revolutionaries who used social media to start anti-government movements across North Africa and the Middle East.
The most famous Cuban blogger using social media to foment dissent is Yoani Sanchez, who publishes "Generation Y," which is translated into 16 languages. She sends out regular tweets about activism and her life on the island using text messaging from her cellphone. She has nearly 250,000 Twitter followers. She posts regularly each day.
Its possible that I dont get there, that I dont have enough health or life, please tell the youth of the future that their irreverence is welcome, she recently wrote on Twitter.
Opponents call her a fraud and an agent in the United States political and economic war against Cuba.
The greatest challenge bloggers like Sanchez face isnt censorship, but getting online. Despite the restrictions, she and others bloggers are finding new ways to broadcast their reporting, by saving posts onto flash drives and sharing them to friends with access to the Internet.