May 3, 2023 - World

Brazilian police raid Bolsonaro's home in fake vaccine cards probe

Bolsonaro at a press conference in November. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Federal police in Brazil searched former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's home and seized his phone on Wednesday in what they said was an investigation into fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Why it matters: Police are investigating whether Bolsonaro, who has long denied being vaccinated, had false information inserted into a government database so that he and his family members could receive vaccination certificates, which they then used to travel to the U.S., the WSJ reports.

Flashback: After losing October's election to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro traveled to Florida in late December, two days before his term ended.

He returned in late March to Brazil, where he faces at least a dozen investigations, including into whether he incited a riot on Jan. 8 in which his supporters stormed Congress.

  • Bolsonaro was questioned by police last week in connection with that investigation. He denies any responsibility for the riot.
  • Bolsonaro also testified last month as part of an investigation into more than $3 million in jewelry that was apparently intended as a gift from the king of Saudi Arabia to Bolsonaro and his wife, Michelle Bolsonaro.
  • A Bolsonaro aide allegedly tried to bring the jewels into the country without declaring them for tax purposes. Bolsonaro denied that anything illegal took place, and former first lady denied any knowledge of the gift.

The big picture: Bolsonaro lost to Lula by less than 2% of the vote. He has still not accepted his defeat, but has had a lower political profile in recent months, apart from the many investigations he's facing.

  • It remains unclear whether Bolsonaro will be the standard-bearer for the nationalist right in Brazil going forward.
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