Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro was cheered by expat supporters on Tuesday when he finally emerged from his cozy Florida hideaway a week after being hospitalized for a mysterious stomach ache.
The so-called Trump of the Tropics is in self-imposed exile in the Sunshine State while Brazilian authorities investigate his alleged links to rioters who stormed his country’s Congress on Jan. 8 to protest his election loss.
He spent early last week in a hospital near Orlando being treated for a “bowel obstruction” but suggested on social media he would soon return to Brazil, where doctors are more familiar with the injuries, which he suffered when he was stabbed while campaigning for Spur in 2018.
On Tuesday, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro finally emerged from his comfortable hideout in Kissimmee, Fla. to meet and greet expat supporters
The handful of staunch supporters – ‘Bolsonaristas – had spent the past week waiting patiently outside an $850,000 mansion to see for themselves that the controversial far-right leader was doing well
Supporters of the President flocked to Bolsonaro, phones in hand, to take selfies with him
Bolsonaro’s whereabouts remained a mystery thereafter, as security guards were stationed at his rented vacation home in Kissimmee, a 15-minute drive from Walt Disney World, and refused to say if he was inside, but any suggestion that his life was in danger dismissed as ‘fake news’.
The handful of staunch supporters – ‘Bolsonaristas – who had spent the past week waiting patiently outside the $850,000 mansion to see for themselves that the controversial far-right leader was doing well, roared their approval when he finally stepped outside into the cool morning air to greet her.
Wearing a blue fleece and navy trousers, Bolsonaro, 67, moved freely and appeared to be in good health as he gave a thumbs-up and posed for our exclusive photos.
“Thanks, but I don’t speak English,” he said politely, before switching to his native Portuguese to speak to his hardcore fans, who asked him to sign their flags, t-shirts, and even sneakers.
Wearing a blue fleece and navy trousers, the 67-year-old moved freely and appeared to be in good health as he smiled and waved to fans
Enthusiastic supporters asked him to sign their flags, t-shirts and even sneakers
Bolsonaro’s whereabouts had remained a mystery following his hospitalization with security forces stationed at an $850,000 vacation home rental in Kissimmee
Bolsonaro posted a picture of himself lying on a hospital bed, recovering from treatment, in Florida last week
Bolsonaro’s headquarters last month was a 3,600-square-foot vacation home with a pool and hot tub owned by Jose Aldo, a retired Brazilian MMA pro fighter and UFC champion.
His presence there is a headache for US President Joe Biden as calls mount for Bolsonaro to be expelled after the battered right winger skipped the inauguration of his left-wing rival, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and flew to Florida on December 30.
Despite being abroad when his supporters stormed the fabled buildings to protest the allegedly “rigged” election, Brazilian investigators labeled him a “person of interest,” an accusation Bolsonaro vehemently denies.
This weekend, a key Bolsonaro ally, former Brasilia Security Secretary Anderson Torres, was arrested by federal authorities as he flew back to Brazil from Florida, where he was reportedly on vacation.
Torres was accused of conspiring to allow the attack by “sabotaging” police efforts to protect Congress, according to The Guardian.
The commander of the capital’s military police was also among 1,400 people taken into custody over the unrest, which caused millions of dollars in damage.
Bolsonaro’s stomach discomfort stems from a protester who stabbed him in the stomach at a rally during his successful 2018 presidential campaign. He lost nearly 40 percent of his blood.
He has since had at least four surgeries and had previously been admitted to a Sao Paulo hospital in January 2022 for a blockage found in his intestines.
Bolsonaro was reportedly taken to Advent Health Celebration last Monday, although there was never any official confirmation from the celebration hospital outside of Orlando.
Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach during his 2018 presidential campaign. He is pictured here on January 3, 2022, giving thumbs up from his hospital bed after being admitted to Sao Paulo, Brazil, with abdominal problems
He was taken to Advent Health Celebration Hospital in Orlando, Florida on Monday
The 67-year-old was stabbed in the stomach during his successful 2018 presidential campaign and lost almost 40 percent of his blood (pictured shortly after the attack).
In an Instagram post later that day, he wrote: “I came [to the United States] stay until the end of the month [January] but I intend to anticipate my return.
“Because in Brazil, the doctors already know about my intestinal blockage problem because of the stab wound. My doctors did not accompany me here.’
Ever since he flew to the US on a Brazilian Navy plane, Bolsonaro has been filmed wandering his neighborhood, absorbing the admiration of Brazilian expat supporters.
He was also filmed at a Publix grocery store and caught on camera eating a KFC meal in a now viral video.
Some lawmakers had no sympathy for Bolsonaro – Democrats urged the United States to bring him back to his country.
Progressive New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on Biden’s administration to “stop giving sanctuary” to the authoritarian leader.
“Almost two years to the day, when the US Capitol was attacked by fascists, we see fascist movements abroad attempting to do the same in Brazil,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro told CNN that Bolsonaro “should be sent back to Brazil” and accused him of mimicking Donald Trump’s refusal to admit defeat in the presidential election.
“I stand with the democratically elected leadership in Brazil,” Castro said. “He was basically using the Trump playbook to inspire domestic terrorists to take over the government.”
Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro march into the National Congress in Brasilia on January 8, 2023
Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in front of the Brazilian National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023 while security forces operate
Castro added that it “looks a lot like January 6th in the United States.”
“Right now Bolsonaro is in Florida, he’s actually very close to Donald Trump – he should be extradited to Brazil. In fact, he was reported to be under investigation for corruption and fled Brazil to the United States,” the Democrat continued.
Bolsonaro supporters have been protesting Lula’s election victory since October 30, blockading roads, setting fire to vehicles and gathering outside military buildings to urge the armed forces to intervene.
But in comments after the riots, Bolsonaro insisted the invasion of government buildings had “crossed the line.”
“Peaceful demonstrations in the form of the law are part of democracy. However, looting and invasions of public buildings, as is happening today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, elude the rule,” he wrote.
“Throughout my tenure, I have always abided by the four lines of the Constitution, respecting and defending the law, democracy, transparency and our sacred freedom.
“Furthermore, I reject the allegations without evidence attributed to me by the current head of the Brazilian executive branch.”