From the presidential palace to the KFC | The new life of Jair Bolsonaro in the United States

(Doral) He led the most important economic power in Latin America and its 214 million inhabitants. Now ex-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro lives in a suburban area near Disney World in Florida and eats alone in a fast food chain.

The former far-right leader fled to the United States in late December, days before supporters unhappy with his left-wing rival Lula’s victory in October’s presidential election invaded and vandalized the presidential palace , Congress and the Supreme Court of Brazil.

Scenes reminiscent of the assault on the Capitol in Washington in January 2021 by supporters of Donald Trump who were protesting against the certification of the victory of his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.

If he condemned the violence in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro is the subject of an investigation by the Supreme Court of his country to determine his role in the assault on national institutions in Brasilia on January 8.

Accustomed to the luxurious Brazilian presidential palace, the “Trump of the Tropics” as he is sometimes nicknamed, now lives in a small house which belongs to the former Brazilian martial arts fighter, José Aldo.

Bolsonaro kept a low profile during his first few weeks in Florida, his only known activities consisting of a trip to the supermarket and another to eat fried chicken alone at a KFC restaurant.

But, the former leader came out of his reserve this week, delivering two speeches within days of each other.

“More popular than ever”

On Friday, the former Brazilian strongman who moved the crowds spoke in Doral, north of Miami, in front of some 400 people during an event organized by the American conservative association Turning Point USA, within a hotel in luxury of ex-president Donald Trump, ally and model of Bolsonaro when he was in power.

“There is no greater satisfaction than that of duty accomplished”, declared the former president in reference to his mandate (2019-2023) in a speech with the air of an electoral meeting, addressing a conquered public. who was on his thirty-one and in the colors of Brazil.

On Tuesday, Jair Bolsonaro spoke at a mall restaurant at a reception hosted by the Brazilian community in Florida, where he continued to question the October election result.

“A lot of people are still shaken by what happened in the election […] But we will face this moment and, God willing, we will overcome together”, he said, considering himself “more popular than ever”.

On both occasions, Bolsonaro was greeted warmly by his most loyal supporters who took photos with him and cheered him on.

An uncertain future

But the future of the former Brazilian leader remains uncertain. After assuring the press that he intended to return to Brazil at the end of January, Mr Bolsonaro applied for a six-month visa to stay in the United States.

One of his children, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, explained last week that the ex-president had no return date. “It could be tomorrow or in six months or he may never come back,” he told reporters.

“I am 67 years old and I intend to remain active in Brazilian politics”, however hammered Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday in Orlando.

It remains to be seen whether he will continue to keep a low profile as when he arrived in Florida or to deliver speeches in his host country to which he paid tribute on Friday.

“I have always been a great admirer of the American people. His freedoms, his patriotism and his love of the flag,” he stressed.

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