Bolsonaro has applied for a US visa extension while Brazil investigates him


Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s embattled former president, has applied for a six-month tourist visa that would allow him to continue living in the United States as he faces growing legal danger back in Brazil.

Bolsonaro’s application was received by US immigration authorities on Friday, attorney Felipe Alexander, who is representing him in the visa application process, confirmed to The Washington Post in a statement.

The type of visa with which Bolsonaro, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, entered the United States is not publicly known. He may have traveled on an A-1 visa, reserved for diplomats and heads of state, which would have expired the day he left office and included a 30-day grace period.

That period would end on Monday.

Bolsonaro left for Florida on December 30 before President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva was sworn in.

The former president’s presence in the United States has sparked growing calls from Democratic lawmakers for the government to revoke his visa so he can face investigations from his time in power and, more recently, into recent election unrest in Brazil.

“The United States should not shelter him or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions,” 41 House Democrats wrote in a Jan. 12 letter to President Biden.

The investigation into the Brazil riots increases Bolsonaro’s legal jeopardy

On January 8, thousands of his radical supporters stormed and ransacked Brazil’s National Congress, its Supreme Court and the presidential palace, an assault that drew similarities to the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol. It it was one of the most serious attacks on Brazilian democracy since the military coup of 1964.

Days after the attacks, which President Biden and world leaders condemned, Brazil’s Supreme Court said it would investigate whether Bolsonaro incited the far-right crowd.

Thousands supporting Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro disrupted the country’s National Congress, the Federal Supreme Court and the presidential office on January 8 (Video: Joe Snell/The Washington Post, Photo: ANDRE BORGES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/The Washington Post )

Although Bolsonaro condemned the Jan. 8 violence and denied any role in it, he has spent his four years in power casting doubt on Brazil’s electoral system and spreading baseless claims that it is prone to fraud. He called Lula a “thief” and suggested his opponents might try to steal the election.

Prosecutors, in their request to investigate Bolsonaro, cited a video he posted on Facebook on January 10 that cast doubt on his election loss. Although it was posted two days after the riots and deleted a day later, prosecutors argued it “will have the power to incite further acts of civil unrest.”

Bolsonaro also faces several criminal cases covering alleged wrongdoing during his four-year rule. Among them, The Washington Post previously reported, are allegations of federal police interference, spreading misinformation about the reliability of Brazil’s electoral system and leaking classified information.

These include his statements about the pandemic, in which he repeatedly dismissed covid-19 as a “little flu” and spread skepticism and misinformation about vaccines. Brazil suffered one of the largest and deadliest outbreaks in the world.

But as investigations loomed over the right-wing Brazilian leader, who has been dubbed the “Trump of the tropics,” he fled to the Sunshine State.

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters outside his vacation home near Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida on January 7 (Video: Tim Craig/The Washington Post)

Bolsonaro’s new life as a Florida guy: fast food and selfies

He found refuge in Kissimmee, a resort community near Disney World, where he lived in the home of a former martial artist. He was spotted eating alone at Kentucky Fried Chicken and posing for selfies with adoring fans who showed up at the home where he was staying.

Bolsonaro has given no indication of how long he plans to stay in Florida, a state that has long served as a haven for foreign leaders escaping political or legal turmoil at home.

In a recent interview with CNN Brasil, he said he will return to Brazil this month. But a person familiar with his thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private plans, previously told The Post that the former president remains concerned about his possible arrest in Brazil.

Tim Craig, Anthony Faiola and Marina Diaz contributed to this report.

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