No desire to hand over office to his elected successor Lula on Sunday: the outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is traveling to the USA – to Florida – shortly before the end of office.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (67) left the country two days before the end of his term in office. He drove from the presidential residence Palácio da Alvorada to the air force base in the capital Brasília and then took off in one of the presidential planes, local media reported unanimously on Friday. Accordingly, the plane landed in Boa Vista in the north of the country for a refueling stop and then flew on to Orlando in the US state of Florida. “I’m on the flight, I’ll be back soon,” Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil television.
Bolsonaro’s term ends on New Year’s, when his left successor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (77) will be sworn in. Recently, it had already become apparent that the right-wing head of state, contrary to custom, would not take part in the handover.
The voted-out politician, also known as “Brazilian Trump”, is following in the footsteps of the former US President, who was also voted out of office, with whom Bolsonaro has a publicly known and long-standing relationship. Donald Trump (76) had also rejected the inauguration of his successor. Before leaving, Bolsonaro – like Trump – also railed against unfair elections. He does not want to officially admit defeat.
Bolsonaro’s employees, to whom he is entitled even after the end of his term of office and who are paid with tax money, had a trip to the United States approved for the whole of January. Bolsonaro was accompanied by his wife Michelle (40) and their daughter Laura. According to media reports, his two adult sons Flavio and Carlos are already in Florida.
It was initially unclear what exactly was behind Bolsonaro’s trip to the USA. According to a report by the news portal G1, his lawyers are said to have advised the president to leave Brazil before the end of his term in office. Apparently they feared that the head of state could be held responsible for the sometimes violent protests by his supporters after Lula’s election victory. But that he flies to Florida of all places – to Trump, who lives there in his Mar-o-Lago estate?
Since his election defeat at the end of October, Bolsonaro has hardly appeared. On Friday he said goodbye to his followers with a video message. He drew a positive balance of his tenure: he boosted the economy, liberalized gun laws and lowered fuel prices, said Bolsonaro. “Am I going to say that I was the best president in the world? I wont. But I gave my blood.”
Lula’s Brazil is “broken”
So far, Bolsonaro has not expressly acknowledged the election victory of his opponent Lula. Lula’s government is already “broken,” Bolsonaro said in the video message. His successor will have difficulties with the now more conservative parliament and parts of the population who voted for Lula already regret this.
Most recently, radical Bolsonaro supporters had camped out in front of barracks and called for military action against the government of the future president. Bolsonaro said in his speech that he had nothing to do with it. He also condemned a failed bomb attack by one of his sympathizers as an act of terrorism.
Vice President Hamilton Mourão (69) told the news portal G1 that he would take over the government as soon as Bolsonaro left the country. “I will take office as soon as Bolsonaro’s plane leaves Brazilian airspace. Until President Lula takes office, everything will be peaceful and calm in the country.” But he will not hand over the presidential sash to Lula on Sunday either. Only Bolsonaro is entitled to that, but he will not be in Brazil at this time. (kes/SDA)