After a contentious presidential race—seen by most as Brazil’s most consequential election in decades—the country’s former far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, opted to take an unconventional route to get out of attending incoming President Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva’s inauguration: Fleeing the country.
Bolsonaro faced extreme heat in recent years after his COVID denialism cost the country thousands of lives. Bolsonaro undermined efforts from medical and government officials to stop the spread of the virus, following the playbook set early on in the pandemic by U.S. President Donald Trump. Bolsonaro’s catastrophic approach to COVID weakened his approval ratings, but left him an ally in the eyes of many in Brazil’s working class, after he fought against isolation by claiming it would damage the country’s economy.
Bolsonaro faced a tight and combative election last fall battling against Lula, the country’s leftist longtime former president who was jailed in 2018 on corruption charges. Brazilian run-off elections were subject to claims of voter suppression from Bolsonaro’s camp. Even after Lula’s win was declared, Bolsonaro refused to accept defeat, with protests erupting across the country and constituents blocking roadways in scenes that called to memory the American January 6 insurrection.
With Bolsonaro now facing multiple government investigations, The New York Times reports that the strongman has fled to Orlando, Florida, thousands of miles away from the country where a peaceful transition of power was due to take place. In a distinctly Floridian move, Bolsonaro is said to be staying in the home of an MMA fighter, and plans to be there for “at least a month.”
After a presidency that mimicked all of the calamitous points of Trump’s time in office, Bolsonaro is cozying up close by his favorite political idol. Now that he’s no longer president, Bolsonaro’s prosecutorial immunity privileges are null and void, and top prosecutors say that they believe there is enough evidence from Bolsonaro’s time as president to aim for a conviction—specifically in a case related to leaked classified information about a secret police investigation into a hacking attack against Brazil's top electoral court.
However, the only heat Bolsonaro seems to be feeling at the moment is the Floridian sun. If his time chowing down at a Florida KFC is any indication, he’s trying to assimilate with locals as best as possible.