Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro leaves for the United States ahead of Lula’s inauguration

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro left Brazil for the United States on Friday, according to CNN Brasil, two days before the inauguration of his successor, President-elect Luiz Inácio « Lula » da Silva.

Bolsonaro took off from Brasilia Air Base in a Brazilian Air Force plane. He was accompanied by advisers and first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, CNN Brasil reported.

« I’m on a flight, I’ll be back soon, » Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil.

His decision to leave comes as the Brazilian government on Friday issued an order allowing five officials to accompany « future ex-president » Bolsonaro to Miami, Florida, between January 1 and January 30, 2023.

While it’s unclear when Bolsonaro plans to return, his trip to the United States could break with the Brazilian convention that outgoing leaders are present at the inauguration ceremony of their successors. Lula da Silva is to be inaugurated on Sunday.

Earlier Friday, Bolsonaro said goodbye to his supporters during a live stream shared online.

« Brazil won’t finish on January 1, you can be sure of that, » the incumbent president said in reference to Lula da Silva’s inauguration date.

« Today we have a mass of people who know more about politics, » he continued. « They understand they are in danger. Good will win. We have leaders all over Brazil. New politicians or re-elected politicians, they will make a difference.

He also condemned an attempted bombing at an airport in Brasilia.

The suspect, who was arrested last weekend, said in a written statement to police that he intended to ‘create chaos’ in order to prevent former Lula da Silva from returning to duty in January.

“There is no justification, here in Brasilia, for this…terrorist act, here in the Brasilia airport area. Nothing justifies it. Bolsonaro said on Friday.

Bolsonaro’s administration has said it is cooperating with the transition of power, but the far-right leader has not explicitly acknowledged his electoral defeat on October 30. In protest, thousands of his supporters have gathered in military barracks across the country, calling on the military to intervene as they claim, without any evidence, the election was stolen.

Yet on Friday, Bolsonaro revoked an order that barred Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other officials from that country from entering Brazil.

The request to lift the ban came from Lula da Silva’s team, according to the president-elect’s press secretary. Maduro was invited to the inauguration.

The ordinance, which began in August 2019, was signed into law by Bolsonaro himself. A new order was published on Friday in the official gazette of the federal government.

In November, Maduro announced on social media that he and Lula had agreed to resume a « cooperation agenda » between the two countries, after Bolsonaro’s government took a hostile stance towards Brazil’s Latin American neighbor.

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