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News Americas, TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, NY, Mon. Mar. 15, 2021: Hondurans went to the polls Sunday in a primary election vote for the next President, that includes a candidate who is fresh off serving a three-year sentence in the United States.

Yani Rosenthal ran to replace Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose name keeps popping up in the New York trial of an alleged drug trafficker.

Also in the running was Xiomara Castro, wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, who is making her second bid to be the Libre party’s presidential candidate. Zelaya’s name also came up last week in the trial of accused Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez.

Also high on the ticket is Nasry Tito Asfura, the capital’s mayor, for the nomination of Hernández’s National Party.

This morning, Honduras’ La Tribuna newspaper show exit polls that reflect Castro in the lead with almost 77 percent while Asfura was second with 68 percent.

Rosenthal who was sentenced in 2017 and agreed to give up $3 million after pleading guilty to laundering money for the Cachiros cartel, had registered over 47 percent.

Voting Sunday occurred without any major reported incidents. Polls closed at 5 p.m. and the vote count had begun, but there was no immediate word on when results would be available.

Honduras’ economy has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two devastating Category 4 hurricanes passed through in November. Persistent gang violence and endemic corruption continue to drive large numbers of Hondurans out of the country.

Whoever wins will face a U.S. administration under Joe Biden that has already signaled a shift in priorities that will consider issues beyond just immigration in its relationship with the Central American nation.

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