KISSIMMEE, Fla. ( Associated Press) – A few dozen fans received autographs from Jair Bolsonaro on Friday, but Brazil’s controversial former president didn’t turn up to greet him after being hospitalized this week.
Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist politician, has been living with a supporter in an Orlando suburb since leaving Brazil in late December, and did not attend the inauguration of his successor on January 1. On Sunday, supporters of the former president who refused to give up attacked government offices in Brazil’s capital, prompting some Brazilian and US lawmakers to demand the Biden administration expel him.
Eduardo Carvalho, 47, a Brazilian-born real estate agent and pastor from Kissimmee, Florida, stands with others outside the home of mixed martial arts fighter Jose Aldo on Friday. He said the former president had not instigated the attack on the capital and should be left alone.
“He came here legally, he didn’t do anything wrong and why – if this is a free country – would we treat a former president like this? It’s a shame,” he said.
Supporters handed items such as Brazil-themed T-shirts, hats, banners and pieces of paper to a security guard outside the residence for his autograph. A woman handed over her shoe.
The man went inside three times and returned a few minutes later with Bolsonaro’s autograph on the items.
Carvalho, who said he supported Bolsonaro because he promoted family values and homeschooling “free from exile”, said he had sent a small gift, a letter and an invitation to a religious gathering.
Bolsonaro was hospitalized on Monday with abdominal adhesions stemming from a 2018 knife attack, the former president wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of himself in bed.
He has not published anything about his health since then, but told a Brazilian outlet on Tuesday that he would return to Brazil ahead of the date originally set for late January.
He entered the United States while he was president and likely had a visa reserved for heads of state, which would give him at least 30 days after the end of his term before he would have to apply for a visa change. Have to do or apply.
A group of 46 Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday demanding that Bolsonaro’s visa be revoked after Sunday’s riots in which his supporters vandalized Congress, the federal Supreme Court and the presidential palace. The letter said the US should not harbor a leader who “has inspired such violence against democratic institutions.”
John Roux in Kissimmee, Florida, contributed to this report.