Brazil’s Bolsonaro resurfaces in Florida to say he won’t leave politics
Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro has reemerged from a self-imposed exile in Florida to tell supporters he’s not done.
At a Tuesday night event in Orlando filled with prayers and patriotic symbols, he urged a captive audience to keep tuning into him with an eye to the country’s own midterm elections in two years’ time.
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It was Bolsonaro’s first public gathering since leaving Brazil and it made clear his intention to keep stoking the political fires.
He came to the US on a diplomatic passport after losing to his bitter rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and now is overstaying his welcome by applying for a tourist’s visa.
“I am 67 years old and I intend to remain active in the Brazilian politics,” he said, dodging a question on the country’s next presidential race in 2026.
Back home, Bolsonaro faces multiple investigations including on his alleged involvement in the January 8 riots by supporters who refused to accept his loss in October’s election to Lula.
In the US, authorities are not quite sure how to manage what has become a diplomatic headache for US President Joe Biden.
Bolsonaro’s presence in the US, living just a few hours drive from the home of his close ally and former president Donald Trump, comes as Biden is getting ready to host Lula at the White House on February 10.
The optics of both Bolsonaro and Lula in the country at the same time, along with the uncomfortable parallels with election deniers and attacks on democracy, pose a problem for the administration.
A return to Brazil would also be a delicate issue for Lula’s administration, wary of turning Bolsonaro into a political martyr after getting 49 percent of the vote in the election.
It would be one thing if Bolsonaro was laying low but he has effectively committed a U-turn. He had indicated he would leave end of January. He hasn’t. He’s now signaled to his supporters that he’s far from a spent political force but doing so from afar.
For example, the former president is backing his ex-cabinet member Rogerio Marinho’s bid to lead the Senate in a key election Wednesday. He spoke to an audience who paid between $10 and $50 per ticket to hear him.
And all signs point to this just being the beginning of what is increasingly looking like rallies in all but name.
He’s taking part in another gathering in Miami on February 3, at one of Trump’s golf courses no less.
In this case, the event is organized by Turning Point USA, a Phoenix-based organization that describes itself as platform to “rise up against the radical left in defense of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
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