Bolsonaro Breaks Silence—Says He Will Return To Brazil In March To Lead Opposition, Report Says


Embattled former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday he is planning to leave Florida next month to return to Brazil, where he faces a series of investigations, including over his role in allegedly inciting a January 6-style attack on the country’s Congress.

Key Facts

Bolsonaro said in the interview—his first since losing last year’s presidential election to leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—that he still sees himself as Brazil’s right-wing leader, saying, “The right-wing movement is not dead and will live on.”

Bolsonaro has not acknowledged losing the election and once again refused to do so in the Journal interview, telling the outlet, “I’m not saying there was fraud, but the process was biased”—a claim he has not provided evidence to back up.

The former president has been living in a home in Kissimmee, Florida—near Walt Disney World—since the start of the year, where he’s become somewhat of a local curiosity after being spotted in public dining alone on fried chicken at a KFC and browsing near the checkout counters at a Publix supermarket.

Bolsonaro remains in the U.S. on a diplomatic visa, according to the Journal, even though he applied late last month for a six-month visitor visa.

It’s unclear if Bolsonaro was approved for the extended visa—a legal representative did not immediately return a request for comment from Forbes.

News Peg

The comments come just days after Lula—who is best known mononymously—visited President Joe Biden at the White House, in a visit the White House said “reaffirmed the vital and enduring nature of the U.S.-Brazil relationship.” Biden also accepted an invitation to make a future trip to Brazil. Bolsonaro told the Journal Lula visited the U.S. just so he could be in the “spotlight.”

Key Background

Brazil plunged into political turmoil following Bolsonaro’s defeat in the October election, capped by Bolsonaro’s supporters storming and vandalizing the Brazilian Congress on January 8. The attack drew widespread comparisons with former President Donald Trump supporters’ storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, since both sets of supporters seemed inspired by baseless skepticism of election results. Bolsonaro throughout his presidency embraced comparisons to Trump as the two forged a close alliance while in office, leading Trump to give Bolsonaro the apparently endearing nickname “Tropical Trump.” Bolsonaro lost the 2022 election to Lula by 1.8 percentage points—around 2 million votes—a relatively tight margin in the nation of nearly 220 million.

What To Watch For

In addition to the January 8 probe, Bolsonaro also faces investigations into potential misconduct, including allegations he knowingly spread disinformation while in office. The former president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Crucial Quote

“Coup? What coup? Where was the commander? Where were the troops, where were the bombs?” Bolsonaro said of allegations he had a hand in the January 8 attack.

Further Reading

Bolsonaro Says He Will Return to Brazil in March to Lead Opposition (Wall Street Journal)

Brazil Election: Left-Wing Lula Narrowly Beats Bolsonaro To Return To Presidency (Forbes)

Biden Denounces ‘Assault On Democracy’ In Brazil As More Than 400 Arrested Following Jan 6-Style Attack (Forbes)

Bolsonaro Seeks Visa To Extend Florida Stay As Legal Threats Mount In Brazil (Forbes)