Mar 30, 2023 - World

Bolsonaro returns to Brazil after self-imposed exile in Florida

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters from a window at the Liberal Party headquarters in Brasília on March 30. Photo: Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro landed in Brazil early Thursday for the first time since his leftist political rival, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, returned to the presidency.

The big picture: Bolsonaro, who never formally conceded defeat in last year's election, left Brazil and flew to Florida just days before Lula's inauguration on Jan. 1. Bolsonaro faces a slew of investigations, including a probe into whether he incited the Jan. 8 attack on Brazil's Congress and other government buildings by his supporters. The far-right leader denies any wrongdoing.

  • While in Florida he kept a relatively low profile, though he did give a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and spoke at events hosted by other U.S. right-wing groups.

What he's saying: "We have turned a page, and now we will prepare for next year's election," Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil, before boarding his flight from Orlando to Brasília, per Reuters.

  • He is expected to campaign in support of his conservative Liberal Party, but said he will not lead the opposition to Lula — though his critics are skeptical of that claim, AP reported.
  • “You don't have to oppose this government. This government is an opposition in itself," he told CNN Brasil.

Between the lines: During his three months in Florida, a number of other opposition politicians have made names for themselves, Reuters noted.

  • "If Bolsonaro cannot quickly show that he can lead, the right will look for other leaders, like the governors of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais," Andre Cesar of the public policy consultancy Hold Legislative Advisors told Reuters.
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