The United States has a problem with Jair Bolsonaro. The former far-right president of Brazil went to Florida two days before his term expired on January 1 after contesting the election he lost to leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on October 30. Bolsonaro, however, left behind a violent movement of election-denying followers who invaded the Brazilian presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court on Sunday. After witnessing fans of former U.S. leader Donald Trump invade the U.S. Capitol two years ago, Democratic President Joe Biden is now under increasing pressure to remove Bolsonaro from his self-imposed exile in Orlando’s suburbs.
Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro stated on CNN, “Bolsonaro should not be in Florida.” “This authoritarian who has fueled internal terrorism in Brazil should not find sanctuary in the United States. He must be returned to Brazil.” Castro claimed that Bolsonaro, a Trump supporter now residing in the home state of the former president, has “applied the Trump playbook to inspire domestic terrorists.”
Similarly-minded Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez echoed these sentiments. “The United States must stop providing Bolsonaro asylum in Florida,” she tweeted on Sunday. Nearly two years to the day after Nazis attacked the U.S. Capitol, fascist movements abroad are doing the same in Brazil.
Their remarks increase the pressure on Bolsonaro and underscore the importance of Washington’s decision regarding his future.
Bolsonaro’s relationship with Biden was tense, and he was already on shakier ground in Brazil after losing sweeping protections from prosecution upon resigning as president. Last week, Reuters reported that these probes might lead to his detention or bar him from standing for politics. John Feeley, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Panama from 2016 to 2018 while the Central American nation sought the extradition of its former president Ricardo Martinelli, stated that revocation of Bolsonaro’s U.S. visa would pose the greatest immediate threat to the Brazilian president.
“The United States, or any sovereign nation, may remove a foreigner for any cause, even if they entered legally on a visa,” Feeley stated. It is a totally sovereign decision that requires no legal justification. Under the condition of anonymity, a U.S. consular official stated that Bolsonaro had very probably entered on an A-1 visa, which is designated for leaders of state.
Normally, the A-1 is terminated upon the recipient’s departure from office. Bolsonaro departed Brazil and entered the United States before the end of his term, therefore the official assumed that his A-1 visa is still valid. The person, who has experience with the cancellation of visas for former heads of state, stated that there is no fixed restriction on how long an A-1 visa holder may remain in the United States.
“We’re in uncharted area,” declared the official. Who knows how long he will be staying? A representative for the State Department stated, “Under U.S. law, visa records are confidential; consequently, we cannot discuss the specifics of individual visa cases.”
Bolsonaro may not be in a rush to return to Brazil, where he is accused of inciting a violent anti-election movement by making unfounded charges of electoral fraud.
Lula, who had previously vowed to pursue Bolsonaro if necessary during his inaugural speech on January 1, blamed his predecessor for the invasion on Sunday. Lula stated, “This genocidaire is promoting this via social media from Miami.” Everyone is aware that numerous ex-presidential addresses encourage this.
In a Sunday tweet, Bolsonaro refuted Lula’s claims and argued that the incursion had exceeded the boundaries of peaceful protest. Before resigning as president, Bolsonaro was already under investigation in four Supreme Court criminal probes.
As a result of Sunday’s invasion, legal experts say he may be the subject of a Supreme Court investigation conducted by crusading Justice Alexandre de Moraes into anti-democratic demonstrations, which has already resulted in several arrests. If Moraes were to sign an arrest warrant for Bolsonaro while he is in the United States, the former president would be legally obligated to return to Brazil and surrender to police. If he refused, Brazil might issue an Interpol Red Notice, which would force U.S. federal agents to arrest him.
If arrested on U.S. soil, Brazil would formally request his extradition. Bolsonaro might file an appeal in U.S. courts, or he could request asylum, but there is no assurance that this would prevent his eventual return to Brazil. Three years after the Supreme Court of Panama issued an arrest warrant for former President Martinelli, he was extradited from the United States back to Panama in 2018.