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Is the recent political thaw in Myanmar genuine? Democratic elections are coming to the long-reclusive southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, formerly Burma. A long military dictatorship has nominally ended, and the regime has signed peace treaties with several ethnic separatist insurgencies. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's long house arrest is over, and she is campaigning for a seat in Parliament in the upcoming April 1 vote. Western investment is beginning to mass, which may ultimately be the reason the country is finally opening its doors. Other speculation on the thaw points to the incompetent emergency response to Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which left as many as 140,000 dead and sowed deep dissatisfaction with the government. Whatever the reasons for the unprecedented opening, the isolated and impoverished Burmese people are eager to reconnect with and catch their more developed neighbors in ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations. While it's impossible to represent every corner of any nation, collected here are images from the last couple of months in Myanmar, a nation of 55 million. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)
A child waits for the arrival of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Pyar Pon in the Irrawaddy Delta region on February 17, 2012. She wears thanaka on her face, a paste made from wood bark popularly used as both a beauty cosmetic and protection from the sun. (Soe Than Win/AFP/Getty Images)

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MILITARY FUNERAL
MILITARY FUNERAL: Mourners attended the funeral of U.S. Army National Guard Maj. Robert Marchanti II at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday. Maj. Marchanti, of Maryland, was fatally shot in an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in February that the Taliban said was retaliation for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

SOMBER CEREMONY
SOMBER CEREMONY: A man mourned in front of a portrait during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday. A Turkish helicopter crashed into a house on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, killing 12 Turkish soldiers and Afghan civilians. (Adem Altan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

HUDDLED AROUND
HUDDLED AROUND: Men gathered around a religious flag as they celebrated the New Year in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday. Afghanistan uses the Persian calendar. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

MUD BATH
MUD BATH: A believer asking for a miracle emerged from mud in Monterrey, Mexico, Monday. Thousands of believers participated in a procession to ask for miracles from Niño Fidencio, a deceased Mexican folk healer whose spirit still heals people, according to local legend. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

HAPPY BOY
HAPPY BOY: A child played in mud on the banks of the Bago River in Bago, Myanmar, Tuesday. (Reuters)

KEEPING THEIR COMPOSURE
KEEPING THEIR COMPOSURE: Soldiers stood still after a comrade fainted as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Charles arrived for a wreath-laying ceremony at Akershus Fortress in Oslo Tuesday. (Getty Images)

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