Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is returning to Brazil after months in the United States. The politician is making his first appearance since his supporters rushed into the Supreme Court, Congress, and the White House in January. The riots followed weeks of protests alleging fraud in Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's loss to the presidency.
Upon boarding an aircraft from a Florida airport, he stated that he would not lead the resistance to Lula. Mr. Bolsonaro also stated that he would assist his Liberal Party as a "experienced person" and that he planned to go throughout Brazil to campaign for the municipal elections next year.
Early Thursday morning, Mr. Bolsonaro is expected to land in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital (three hours behind GMT). On his return, the former president will face a number of legal obstacles, including an investigation into whether he incited protesters who attacked key government facilities a week after Lula's inauguration.
Before his successor was sworn in, he departed the nation in December, traveled to Florida, and applied for a six-month US tourist visa.
In October of 2018, Mr. Bolsonaro narrowly lost the presidential election to his left-wing opponent, which led to baseless charges of electoral fraud by his supporters, culminating in the escalation of violence in the capital. He has expressed "regret" for the turmoil but denies being responsible for it.
Nonetheless, the Supreme Court of Brazil has consented to include him in its inquiry into the 8 January storming of government facilities. On that day, thousands of hardline Bolsonaro supporters, who continue to assert that the election was rigged, assaulted Brasilia's Supreme Court, Congress, and presidential palace.
They camped for weeks in and around the city, seeking a military coup, and more than 1,200 people have been charged in relation to the unrest. In February, Brazilian Senator Marcos do Val alleged that Mr. Bolsonaro attended a December meeting to discuss a strategy to keep him in power, stating that he was asked to convince the head of the electoral body to compromise himself in order to discredit the presidential election.
He and his representatives have yet to respond to Mr. do Val's statements.
The return of Mr. Bolsonaro to Brazil presents risks and uncertainties for his country, the administration of President Lula, and himself. It is difficult to predict how the politically divided Brazilian populace will respond to his arrival.
Throughout Mr. Bolsonaro's 89-day prolonged holiday in the United States, the former head of state had made only sporadic media appearances.
Police were also trying to seal off the Esplanade of the Ministries, the ceremonial heart of the capital, which is home to the on January 8th seized government buildings.
The inquiry into charges that Mr. Bolsonaro and some of his closest aides incited the riots is not Mr. Bolsonaro's only legal headache. Numerous additional Brazilian investigations are exploring charges of his role in electoral disinformation and other potential irregularities, some of which are punishable by imprisonment.Thus, many Brazilian watchers anticipated that Mr. Bolsonaro would want to extend his stay in the United States. Instead, he has returned to Brazil to confront an unclear personal circumstance. Mr. Bolsonaro is still a formidable adversary who enjoys the support of millions of Brazilians.
He will likely continue to be a divisive figure.