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Mexico's corruption referendum eye-roll

If your country had suffered decades of crippling corruption, wouldn't you want to prosecute those responsible? Of course you would. On Sunday, almost 98 percent of Mexicans who voted in a national referendum on this subject said, in so many words: "Yes, please prosecute the last five presidents for corruption!"

The catch is that turnout was a dismal 7 percent, meaning the plebiscite fell way short of the 40 percent turnout threshold required for its result to be binding.

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Fighting for democracy in Hungary and Hong Kong

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes sees parallels between Hungary's politics and what happened in the US under Trump, and believes the EU has been too lenient towards Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's autocratic tendencies. Rhodes, who met with democracy activists in Hungary and Hong Kong when researching his book, "After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made," observes that Hungary's opposition groups have been strengthened by banding together to form a united front against corrupt politicians. There's less reason for hope in Hong Kong, says Rhodes, and one reason is that the US never made it a priority. "At every stage of the last 30 years, a commercial interest, or a security interest, or a geopolitical interest was always above what our interests were on an issue like Hong Kong," Rhodes tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Is American democracy in danger?

Lula’s comeback upends Brazilian politics; Senegal's dicey situation

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

We'll start in Brazil. Will Lula run for president and seriously challenge Bolsonaro?

And the answer is, it increasingly looks that way. The Supreme Court threw out former President Lula's former conviction, saying they didn't have jurisdiction. And the court that he was actually charged, court members were surprised by this. Lula's own PT party surprised by this. It means a couple of things. One, he's much more likely to run. He's extremely popular on the left. His PT party has about 20% approval in the country. And that means that between Bolsonaro, the president, and Lula on the left, there's very little room in the center. This is going to be an incredibly contentious and polarized election, much more so than in the United States, even this past November.

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Why opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned to Russia after poisoning

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of the Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

US sanctions on Russia don't hit hard; Nicolas Sarkozy found guilty

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (a little over) 60 Seconds:

The Biden administration announced its first sanctions. How will it affect US-Russia relations?

Not very much. About as bad as they were under the Trump administration, even though Trump personally wanted to be aligned with Putin, the administration was not. This is the same approach on sanctions as we've seen from the European Union, they could go a lot harder. It's not sector level. It's not major state enterprises. It's a few Russian officials that were involved in the chemical program for Russia. And at the end of the day, the Russians are annoyed, but they're not going to hit back. That's that. Okay.

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Colombia's humanitarian gesture for Venezuelan refugees merits US support

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Number one, why did Colombia's president grant legal status to 1.7 million Venezuelan migrants?

Well, because they have them, first of all. Because given the extraordinary economic collapse and the human rights abuses of Venezuelans under the Maduro presidency, not to mention the coronavirus crisis making their lives even worse, they've been fleeing, and most of them have ended up in Colombia. Not providing legal status means they can't work, means they have no path for a future. Some of them have even fled back to Venezuela or returned to Venezuela, and again just shows just how critically difficult their life has been. It's a humanitarian gesture of pretty staggering degree. It makes an enormous difference in the lives of these people. Think about how the United States under Biden now preparing to accept 125,000 refugees per year, up 10 times from what it was just a year ago, the world's most powerful country. The wealthy countries never get overwhelmed with refugees the way the poorest countries do. It's states in Sub-Saharan Africa and it's South and Southeast Asia and it's Latin America, and in the Western hemisphere, it's been Colombia.

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Putin worried by massive protests in Russia

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe as Russian protests continue:

Is Vladimir Putin worried about protests in Russia?

You bet he's worried. I mean, what we've seen during the last week is all, sort of, the PR gimmicks in order to try to diffuse the tension and spread sort of disinformation on the nature of that particular palace. And then, of course, a massive, massive repression yesterday as we saw repeated protests all across Russia, primarily in Moscow and St. Petersburg. But as we saw last weekend as well, all over the place. So, Putin is distinctly worried.

The Graphic Truth: Where corruption is rising, falling

Corruption has made the pandemic worse. That's the message from Transparency International's new corruption perceptions report for 2020, which notes that from inflating the cost of medical supplies to taking bribes to get tests, graft was directly responsible for countless deaths because it diverted funds from the health care needs of populations to the personal needs of corrupt officials. So, where was corruption worst in 2020, and which countries made the most and least progress on fighting graft? We take a look.

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