The Brazilian Bolsonaro arrives in Florida, avoiding the transfer of power to Lula

Incumbent Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro landed in Florida on Friday, having delivered a tearful message to his supporters less than two days before his fierce left-wing rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office.

An official Brazilian plane landed in Orlando, Florida on Friday evening, flight-tracking website FlightAware said. Although Bolsonaro’s destination has not been officially confirmed, his security personnel were already in place in Florida.

Bolsonaro’s exit from Brazil came after he repeatedly said he would not hand over the presidential sash to Lula at Sunday’s inauguration, breaking with Brazil’s democratic tradition. He could also face legal risks by staying in Brazil as his presidential immunity expires when Lula takes office.

His departure followed an emotional final social media address earlier on Friday, in which he reviewed the highlights of his tenure, sought to defend his legacy and tried to inspire his supporters to continue the fight against Lula. .

Vice President Hamilton Mourao is now interim president following Bolsonaro’s departure from the country, his press office said. But Mourao will not pass the presidential sash to Lula, a spokesperson noted, raising doubts about who will do the handover ceremony.

The presidential plane took off from Brasilia shortly after 2 p.m. local time.

“I’m in flight, back soon,” Bolsonaro reportedly told CNN Brasil earlier today.

Its news service did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters. The US State Department did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. The US Embassy in Brasilia referred Reuters questions about Bolsonaro’s trip to the Brazilian president’s office.

Bolsonaro’s exit follows weeks of silence, after losing Brazil’s toughest election in a generation.

Some of Bolsonaro’s supporters refused to accept Lula’s victory, believing his claims to be baseless that the October election was stolen. This has contributed to a tense atmosphere in the capital Brasilia, with riots and a foiled bomb plot last week.

In his social media address, Bolsonaro called the bomb plot a “terrorist act” for which there was no justification. He has sought to distance himself from George Washington Sousa, the man who confessed to making the bomb and told police that Bolsonaro’s call to arms inspired him to build an arsenal of guns and explosives.

“The man had ideas that are not shared by any citizen, but now they classify him as a ‘bolsonarist’,” the president said.

Yet Bolsonaro also praised protesters camping outside army barracks across the country, urging the military to stage a coup.

“I did not encourage anyone to enter the confrontation,” he said, adding that his supporters had simply sought “freedom”. He said the protests had been “spontaneous”, without direction or coordination.

Bolsonaro’s quick exit was a disappointment for many on the right, where his reputation took a hit for his post-election silence. Some of his die-hard supporters at the entrance to Alvorada Palace, the presidential residence where he lived, called him a “coward” during his speech, according to a Reuters witness.

Others felt abandoned by his departure.

“I feel like my boyfriend left me,” Deise Casela, a 57-year-old widow, said as she touched the Brazilian flag that was lowered after Bolsonaro left the residence. “I’m still grieving.”


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