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A vote for change in Honduras. Will they get it?

The small Central American nation of Honduras is in many ways a full blown narco-state. President Juan Orlando Hernandez – who’s governed the country for close to a decade – has been linked to the country’s booming drug trafficking trade. His brother Tony, a former congressman who is buds with Mexican drug lord El-Chapo, was sentenced to life-in prison this year for smuggling cocaine into the US. Narco-trafficking gangs run riot in the country, fueling one of the world’s highest murder rates, while corruption and poverty abound.

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Omicron variant unlikely to lead to lockdowns by governments

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the omicron variant, the Honduras presidential election, and the pros and cons of getting stuck in a UK pub for three days in a snowstorm.

As the omicron variant emerges, is a return to lockdown next?

The answer is, only in a few play places, because people are exhausted from lockdowns. They're angry with their governments from doing it. Governments are going to be very reluctant to have the economic hit as a consequence, especially when they know they can't pay out the relief money that they've been paying over the last couple of years, and they're not yet sure about just how much of a danger omicron is. I think all sorts of travel restrictions, but unless and until you see that the spread starts leading to significant lethality, hospitalizations, and once again, the potential for ICUs to be overwhelmed, I do not expect many significant lockdowns that are countrywide at this point. Not least in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the populations are very young and as a consequence, you can have a lot of spread and they're not paying attention to it, frankly.

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What We're Watching: Honduras bracing for post election upheavals

Honduras braces for post election upheavals (again). Leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro jumped out to a sizable early lead in Sunday's Honduran presidential and legislative elections, but her rival is also claiming victory in a vote already marred by fears of violence and several confirmed cyberattacks on voting systems. Castro's main opponent is businessman and capital city mayor Nasry Asfura, candidate of the ruling center-right National Party. If Castro wins, she would become the Central American country's first female president, and the first leftist to hold power since her husband, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a coup 12 years ago. The stakes are high for Honduras, which has been wracked by gang violence, sky-high murder rates, and poverty for years. Widespread irregularities in the 2017 re-election of current president Juan Orlando Hernandez led to days of deadly violence, and Hernandez himself has since been placed under US investigation for ties to drug traffickers. Outside of Honduras both Mexico and the US will be watching closely — hundreds of thousands of Hondurans have fled instability in their home country in recent years, traversing Mexico to seek opportunity in the USA: after Mexicans, Hondurans are currently the second most common nationality apprehended at the US southern border.

What We're Watching: Omicron sparks fear and restrictions, Honduras' elections, Modi plays politics with farmers, EU calls for migrant pact with UK, Kyiv on alert

The omicron wars: Can we really afford to lock down again? In response to the new omicron variant first discovered by South African scientists, many countries have reintroduced pandemic travel restrictions that we thought were long behind us. Israel and Morocco have banned all foreign visitors, while tougher rules on quarantining and travel have also been enforced in the UK, Australia, Singapore and parts of Europe. Meanwhile, travelers from southern African countries have been banned from entering almost everywhere. Scientists say that it is still too early to say how infectious the new variant is, or how resistant it might be to vaccines. This disruption comes just as many economies were starting to reopen after more than 20-months of pandemic closures and chaos. The new restrictions are already triggering a fierce debate: some say that we are now in the endemic stage of the pandemic and that it is both unsustainable – and economically and psychologically harmful – to keep locking down every time a new variant surfaces. Others, like Israel's PM Naftali Bennett, say we are in the throes of a new "state of emergency," and that we can't afford to take any chances. What do you think?

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