After a controversial presidential race – considered by many to be Brazil’s most consequential election in decades – the country’s former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro chose to take an unusual route to attend the inauguration of incoming President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva: Leaving the Country.
Bolsonaro has faced extreme heat in recent years after his denial of COVID cost the country thousands of lives. Bolsonaro has undermined efforts by medical and government officials to stop the spread of the virus, following the playbook set at the beginning of the pandemic by US President Donald Trump. Bolsonaro’s hawkish approach to COVID has dented his approval ratings but left him an ally in the eyes of many in Brazil’s working class after he campaigned against isolation on the grounds that it would harm the country’s economy.
Bolsonaro faced a tight and contested election last fall, fighting against Lula, the country’s leftist longtime former president, who was jailed in 2018 on corruption charges. Brazil’s runoffs were subject to elections allegations of voter suppression from Bolsonaro’s camp. Even after Lula’s victory was declared, Bolsonaro refused to accept defeat, with protests breaking out across the country and voters blocking the streets in scenes reminiscent of the January 6 American uprising.
With Bolsonaro now facing multiple government investigations, The New York Times reports that the strongman has taken refuge in Orlando, Florida, thousands of miles away from the country where a peaceful transition of power was to take place. In a distinctly Florida move, Bolsonaro is said to be staying at the home of an MMA fighter and plans to be there for “at least a month.”
After a presidency that mimicked all the bad points of Trump’s time in office, Bolsonaro is enjoying his favorite political idol up close. Now that he is no longer president, Bolsonaro’s prosecutorial immunity privileges are void, and top prosecutors say they believe there is enough evidence from Bolsonaro’s time as president to seek a conviction—specifically in a case related to the leak of classified information about undercover police investigation into a hacker attack on Brazil’s top electoral court.
However, the only heat Bolsonaro seems to be feeling right now is the Florida sun. If its time munching on a Florida KFC is any indication, he tries to assimilate with the locals as best he can.