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Jair Bolsonaro leaves Brazil for Florida, avoiding Lula’s transfer

The far-right leader said goodbye to his supporters on Friday before leaving for the United States, where his plans are unclear.

Outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has left the country for the United States, avoiding the inauguration of incoming President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated him in the country’s October election.

Bolsonaro left Brazil on Friday and reportedly flew to the US state of Florida after giving a final speech to his supporters, some of whom have pushed for a military coup after his electoral defeat.

In a tearful speech, Bolsonaro said he had “lost the battle but not the war” and distanced himself from recent acts of political violence by his supporters, saying he “did not encourage anyone to engage in confrontation.”

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The far-right leader has remained largely hidden since his defeat, and his plans for the future remain unclear. The FlightAware website, which monitors air traffic, showed that the presidential plane left the capital Brasilia after 2:00 p.m. local time (5:00 p.m. GMT) and is heading to Orlando, Florida.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao temporarily became the country’s interim president and confirmed that Bolsonaro had left the country. Bolsonaro had repeatedly stated that he did not want to pass the presidential sash to Lula during the inauguration.

Ahead of Lula’s swearing-in ceremony on January 1, officials took additional security precautions, including a temporary ban on firearms in the capital, as the transition of power takes place amid heightened tensions and concerns. about potential violence.

For years, Bolsonaro spread anti-democratic rhetoric and cast doubt on the integrity of Brazil’s electoral system, hinting that he would refuse to resign if he lost the election to his left-wing rival.

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Following his defeat on October 31, Bolsonaro did not explicitly relent, but stated that he would follow the country’s constitution. He served a single term as president.

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Some of his supporters have refused to accept the results, camping out in front of the military barracks in an attempt to provoke a military intervention to reverse the election results.

On December 12, members of a camp attacked the federal police headquarters in Brasilia after the official certification of the election results that same day. And last Saturday, a man was arrested for allegedly trying to set off a bomb to protest Lula’s victory. He said that Bolsonaro had inspired him to build an arsenal of weapons.

Bolsonaro condemned that effort as a “terrorist act” and said the suspect “had ideas that are not shared by any citizen.”

The far-right leader could also face a series of legal challenges once his term officially ends and his presidential immunity expires. He is being investigated by the country’s Supreme Court for allegedly divulging confidential information and improperly interfering in a police investigation.

Some have pointed out that despite Bolsonaro’s defeat, the country’s conservative movement performed well in the October elections and will remain a powerful force in Brazilian politics.

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“I am in flight,” Bolsonaro was quoted as saying by CNN Brazil on Friday. “Come back soon.”

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