Bolsonaro Returns To Brazil From Florida, Faces Down Multiple Criminal Investigations
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has returned to Brazil on Thursday for the first time since far-left rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva returned to the presidency, and at a moment no less than five Supreme Court investigations linger over his head, any one of which could send him to prison.
As AFP outlines, this includes "four for alleged crimes during his term (2019-2022), and one over accusations he incited a riot by supporters who invaded the presidential palace, Congress and the Supreme Court on January 8, protesting his election loss."
He spent three months in Florida, quiet and keeping a low profile, as politicians in both Brazil and the US (Democrats) called for him to be booted from the US amid questions over his visa status. He had flown to Florida days prior to Lula's Jan.1st inauguration, residing in a posh resort community residence outside Orlando provided by a friend, on an A-1 visa which is only issued to diplomats and heads of state.
Democrats as well as pro-Lula officials accused Bolsonaro of inciting riots and political violence from afar, and the White House had even multiple times been asked about extradition.
The State Department's Ned Price denied to extradition was on the table, and explained in early January: "If an A visa holder is no longer engaged in official business on behalf of their government, it is incumbent on that visa holder to depart the US or to request a change to another immigration status within 30 days."
And after three months of the Florida Man lifestyle, Bolsonaro is back in Brazil.— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) March 30, 2023
(Unrelatedly, I need to know more about who makes the music choices for his TikToks) pic.twitter.com/Nf7HvcZESq
Additionally, group of 41 Democratic members of Congress had sent a letter to the Biden White House demanding action against the former Brazilian president. "We must not allow Mr Bolsonaro or any other former Brazilian officials to take refuge in the United States to escape justice for any crimes they may have committed when in office," the lawmakers wrote.
Bolsonaro had submitted an application for a for a six-month visitor visa, so while it at first appeared he would extend his stay in the US through legal means, that could have been called off due to the mounting political pressure both within and outside the US.
The former president was greeted by a large crowd upon return:
Bolsonaro is back in Brazil!!! pic.twitter.com/NdY7YesM7j— Michael Burea (@MichaelBurea) March 30, 2023
He never actually formally conceded defeat to Lula, and is expected to help bolster the political opposition in Brazil, but says he doesn't plan to lead it. CNN describes of his return:
Instead, Bolsonaro said he planned to help his party "as an experienced person," collaborating with "whatever they wish," CNN Brasil quoted the former president as saying. He added that he will tour the country in preparation for next year’s municipal elections.
"We have turned a page, and now we will prepare for next year's election," he recently said to CNN Brasil. "You don't have to oppose this government. This government is an opposition in itself."