The government of Joe Biden is under increasing pressure from leftists in Latin Americaas well as US legislators, to expel Jair Bolsonaro of a post-presidential retreat in Florida after the attack by his supporters in the capital of Brazil during the weekend.
But the right-wing former president could anticipate any plans for such a forceful move. On Tuesday, he told a Brazilian media outlet that he would return home earlier, originally scheduled for the end of January, after being hospitalized with abdominal pain from a stabbing in 2018.
“I came to spend some time away with my family, but they were not quiet days”Bolsonaro told CNN’s Portuguese affiliate in Brazil. “First it was this sad episode in Brazil and then my hospitalization”.
Bolsonaro arrived in Florida in late December, skipping the Jan. 1 inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who became the first Brazilian president-elect not to receive his predecessor’s presidential sash since democracy was restored. in the 1980s. Bolsonaro is staying at the home of Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter José Aldo, an ardent supporter of the former president.
His visit to Florida went virtually unnoticed in the United States until Sunday’s attack by thousands of his supporters who had been camped out for weeks in front of a military base in Brasilia, refusing to accept Bolsonaro’s defeat in the October runoff election. His invasion of Brazil’s Congress and presidential palace left behind shattered glass, smashed computers and damaged works of art.
Almost from the moment the images of destruction were broadcast to the world, Democrats expressed concern about Bolsonaro’s presence on US soil, drawing parallels between the events in Brazil and the January 6, 2020 insurrection by Donald’s allies. Trump who stormed the Capitol to try to overturn the results of the presidential election.
Among those calling on President Joe Biden to oust Bolsonaro is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Almost two years to the day the United States Capitol was attacked by fascists, we are seeing fascist movements abroad trying to do the same in Brazil”said the legislator for New York. “The United States must stop granting refuge to Bolsonaro in Florida.”
For the White House it should be a no-brainer, according to experts.
Biden has never been close to Bolsonaro, who has made common cause with Trump’s main far-right allies. And any move to oust him is likely to be welcomed in Latin America, where Biden is courting a new breed of left-leaning leaders who have risen to power in places like Chile and Colombia expressing similar concerns about threats to democracy.
“It is one thing to make statements about supporting democracy”said John Feeley, a veteran US diplomat in Latin America who resigned as ambassador to Panama in 2018 over differences with the Trump administration.
“It’s another thing really to take action in your own home, where you have sovereign control, with someone who is clearly in league with the same people who brought you in on January 6.”Feeley said.
But so far the Biden administration has proceeded cautiously.
On Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said — while dodging questions about Bolsonaro’s presence — that anyone entering the United States on an A-1 visa, reserved for sitting heads of state, would have 30 days to leave the country or adjust their status with the Department of Homeland Security at the end of their term.
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was similarly circumspect, saying only that any Bolsonaro-related requests from the Brazilian government would be evaluated, taking legal precedent into account. Normally, the United States is reluctant to discuss visa issues for privacy reasons.
Feeley said the longer the Biden administration waits, the weaker its support for democracy in the region will be perceived to be.
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