Written by: Nickolas Bartel, Political and Current Event Staff Writer
Protestors hold a public demonstration in response to political crisis in Brazil. (Photo Courtesy IPI Global Observatory)
FEB. 11, 2023 - On Jan. 8, supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in Brasilia that echoed the insurrection in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. This threat to democracy in Brazil was neither random nor over.
“This threat to democracy in Brazil was neither random nor over.”
Critics state that Bolsonaro targeted women, LGBTQ+ and other minority groups. Under his leadership, he oversaw a 12-year peak of deforestation, persecuted political critics using laws from Brazil’s military dictatorship era and attacked public health policies during the pandemic. The former president claimed voter fraud in the past two presidential elections claiming to have gotten even more votes despite still winning. Going into the 2022 election, Reuters reports Bolsonaro saying, “I have three alternatives for my future: being arrested, killed or victory.”
In the October election, with no candidate receiving 50 percent or more of the votes in the first round of voting, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (commonly known as Lula) won a close run-off election directly against Bolsonaro with 50.9 percent of the vote. On Nov. 22, Bolsonaro and his party petitioned that voting machine failures would result in enough ballots to be ineligible and he would win. The court did not accept this petition. Bolsonaro said he would “continue to fulfill all commandments of the constitution” but did not concede the election fully. His comments suggested that he would follow the peaceful transition of power.
However, Brazilian magazine Vega reports this month that Sen. Marcos do Val said that Bolsonaro instructed him to record Justice Alexandre de Moraes, the Supreme Court justice heading the electoral authority with overstepping his powers. In do Val’s recorded meeting with Bolsonaro, the former president reportedly said he planned to “annul the election, Lula isn’t sworn in, I stay in the presidency and arrest Alexandre de Moraes because of his comments.” These actions further added to the multiple investigations into Bolsonaro’s administration.
“A week after the inauguration, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed congress, the executive mansion and the Supreme Court.”
On Dec. 30, two days before the inauguration, Bolsonaro arrived in Florida on an A-1 visa for foreign government leaders. A week after the inauguration, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed congress, the executive mansion and the Supreme Court. Several high-ranking officials in the police and military have been arrested by police for aiding the insurrection, as videos show police and military officials acting unconcerned toward the insurrectionists. Media reports note a low police presence despite their intelligence agency’s warnings of a large and violent protest. Within nine days of the attack, police arrested 727 people in connection to the attacks, with hundreds more in custody.
Bolsonaro is seeking a six-month tourist visa as his prior A-1 visa has expired. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates that it may take between March 2024 to July 2025 for processing. However, he could remain in the country with the proper paperwork. After the Jan. 8 attacks, forty-five U.S. House Democrats sent a letter to President Biden to work with Brazilian authorities and revoke Bolsonaro’s visa, writing, “The United States must not provide shelter for him or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions.”
“The United States must not provide shelter for him or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions.” – 45 House Democrats in a letter to President Biden
Anti-government protest in Rio. Photo Courtesy (Steffen Stubager/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
While waiting for the verdict on his application, Bolsonaro has attended various conservative and evangelical events. On Feb. 1, supporters paid $50 to take pictures with him on a small stage at a strip mall in Orlando. Two days later, Bolsonaro spoke at a Turning Point USA event at Trump’s National Doral resort in Miami. While staying at his UFC champion friend’s house, he also has been seen talking with supporters in the driveway. Despite his anti-democratic statements promoting election denialism and several investigations, Bolsonaro appears to have a publicly carefree life as he was spotted eating alone at KFC and making various TikTok videos in a Wal-Mart and other grocery stores. On Feb. 11, he announced to an evangelical church in Florida that he plans to return to Brazil “in the coming weeks.” If he returned, he would face a Supreme Court investigation and a divided nation.
“On Feb. 11, he [Bolsonaro] announced…plans to return to Brazil ‘in the coming weeks.’ If he returned, he would face a Supreme Court insurrection investigation and a divided nation.”