Jair Bolsonaro Says He Will Return To Brazil To Lead Opposition Against Lula Da Silva

(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro intends to return to his country to lead the opposition against new President Lula da Silva, he told The Wall Street Journal.

After losing his bid for re-election last fall, Bolsonaro took refuge in Florida, ringing in the new year at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago. He’s facing legal issues stemming from his supporters storming the capital of Brazil after da Silva was inaugurated last month.

“The right-wing movement is not dead and will live on,” the populist leader told The WSJ.

Bolsonaro has yet to concede defeat to Lula, but told The WSJ he didn’t necessarily believe there was electoral fraud involved in his defeat, just that the process was “biased.” (RELATED: Man Arrested For Allegedly Planting Explosives In Capital Before Presidential Inauguration In Brazil)

The former president first arrived in Florida in December on a diplomatic visa, but was required by immigration law to apply for new status or leave the country within one month of his tenure as president ending. Lula was sworn into office on Jan. 1, and Bolsonaro’s lawyers confirmed at the end of January that he’d be applying for a tourist visa.

Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed Brazil’s Congress and Supreme Court one week after Lula was inaugurated, many citing alleged “fraud” as the reason for their candidate’s defeat. Bolsonaro himself promoted conspiracy theories about irregularities during the election, but third parties have not verified his claims. Now, Bolsonaro is facing investigations into what role he may have played in the riots directly when he returns to Brazil, without the legal immunities afforded to the president.

Lula previously served as Brazil’s president between 2003 and 2010. The popular socialist figure was jailed on corruption charges after leaving office, but was released after the Supreme Federal Court ruled he was wrongfully imprisoned in 2019. He is the first Brazilian president to be elected to a third term.