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Rafael A. Lecuona (born June 2, 1928, in Havana, Cuba) is a former member of the Cubanmarker gymnastics team (1948-1955) and professor emeritus of Texas A&M International Universitymarker in Laredomarker. He competed in the Pan American Games in Buenos Airesmarker (1951) and Mexico Citymarker (1955) and was a member of the Florida State Universitymarker's men's gymnastics team from 1953 to 1956.

Olympics

While at Florida State University (FSU), Lecuona was credited with being the first person to introduce the Russian Moor dismount from the pommel horse to the United States. At the 1951 Pan American Games, Lecuona won the gold medal in the pommel horse, as well as a silver medal in the men's all around, rings, and men's vault. He also won a silver medal for his dismount on the pommel horse at the 1955 Pan American Games. Lecuona represented Cuba at the 1948 Olympic Games in Londonmarker, the 1952 Games in Helsinkimarker, and the 1956 Games in Melbournemarker. He was ranked 29th among world gymnasts in 1955.

Career

Lecuona received his doctorate in political science from FSU in 1970 and was thereafter professor of political science at Texas A&M International in Laredo. He was one of the original faculty members at the founding in 1970 of Texas A&I University at Laredo (which later became Laredo State University and then Texas A&M International) and was recognized by the state university system with an emeritus designation upon his retirement in 2002.

Political Views

He subscribes to the "elitist" theory of government: that no matter how a structure of government is established, whether a democracy, a republic, an oligarchy, or a socialist system, the top 1 percent of the population are the "movers" and "shakers" who make all the important decisions. This view tends to discount the importance of elections and grassroots participation stressed by other more traditional political scientists. He has long been outspoken in his opposition to the administration of Cuban President Fidel Castro. Contrary to what many suppose, he is a Libertarian.

Personal Life

Lecuona is the author of numerous books and professional articles in the fields of Latin American politics and economics. He has also written Spanish-language novels. He is a nephew of famed Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona and a cousin of Cuban classical guitarist and composer, Leo Brouwer. From his first marriage, he is the father of Mark Rafael Lecuona and Miguel R. Lecuona. He resides in Laredo with his second wife, the former Diana Picard. Thin, tanned, and in good physical condition, stemming undoubtedly from his Olympic days, Lecuona was a regular jogger well into his seventies.

Dr. Lecuona declared his official retirement from teaching at the end of the spring 2007. Many students recognize him for his dedication to teaching, his sense of humor, and his vivid recollections of life in Cuba before moving to the United States. The last course he taught at TAMIU was Political System of the United States, a requirement for all political science majors.

His favorite book is Milton Friedman's Free to Choose.


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