Bolsonaro says he’ll stay in U.S. as Brazil’s high court investigates his role in uprising
Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro confirmed Friday that he plans to spend more time in the United States, delaying a return home as the Supreme Court of the South American nation investigates what role he may have played in last month’s violent riots.
Bolsonaro, who has been staying in Orlando since he arrived in Florida in December, told a room filled with nearly 300 supporters in Miami that he is concerned about Brazil’s immediate future under the administration of leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose election last October he does not recognize.
Speaking at a forum organized by an American conservative political group at the Trump National Doral hotel near Miami, the former president spent most of his speech touting his four years of leadership while avoiding the controversies surrounding his last days in office.
He did not speak about the ongoing investigation in Brazil surrounding a violent uprising mounted last month by his supporters, one that many see inspired by the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. He also did not address allegations that surfaced Thursday that he was personally involved in a plot to block Lula’s inauguration.
Nevertheless, Bolsonaro did say that for the time being he has postponed plans to return to his country.
“I always want to go to Brazil, but I have delayed my return a little bit more,” he said, confirming reports that he applied this week for a six-month visa to remain in the United States.
Given that he arrived in the U.S. before his successor was sworn in, analysts believe that Bolsonaro most likely entered the country using an A-1 visa, which is reserved for heads of state, and which would have expired on Jan. 31.
Bolsonaro spoke at the Doral event organized by the conservative organization Turning Point USA, a day after the Brazilian magazine Veja quoted a local senator saying that the ex-president had asked him to help him in a plot to overturn the results of the country’s presidential election so he could stay in power.
In the interview, whose recording was released online by the magazine, Sen. Marcos do Val claimed that Bolsonaro asked him during a meeting held at the presidential palace three weeks before Lula was scheduled to take office to meet with Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes and to get him to say that he abused his constitutional powers in favor of Lula’s election victory.
Do Val, who was a close ally to Bolsonaro, said he had the task of recording the admission of the Supreme Court justice, who also heads Brazil’s electoral authority. “‘I annul the election, Lula isn’t sworn in, I stay in the presidency and arrest Alexandre de Moraes because of his comments,’” do Val quotes Bolsonaro as saying.
Veja released the recording soon after the senator denied publicly that he had made the comments published by the magazine early on Thursday.
Bolsonaro, who didn’t attend Lula’s inauguration, arrived in Florida on Dec. 30, two days before the transfer of power was scheduled to take place and without conceding that he had lost the election. Like former President Donald Trump, Bolsanaro also claimed that there was widespread electronic fraud during the voting process.
A few days later, on Jan. 8, his supporters stormed into the main seats of power in Brazil, claiming that the election had been stolen.
Asking the military to topple the newly inaugurated Lula administration, thousands of Bolsonaro’s followers broke into government buildings, overturning furniture, breaking windows and vandalizing statues and paintings inside the presidential palace and the Congress and Supreme Court buildings.
Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters were arrested while the Supreme Court investigates the former president’s involvement in the riots that officials claim were coordinated given that they were held simultaneously in different cities.