President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took the reins of the Brazilian government on Sunday in an elaborate inauguration, complete with a motorcade, music festival and hundreds of thousands of supporters filling the central esplanade of Brasília, the nation’s capital.But one key person was missing: the departing far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.
Mr. Bolsonaro was supposed to pass Mr. Lula the presidential sash on Sunday, an important symbol of the peaceful transition of power in a nation where many people still recall the 21-year military dictatorship that ended in 1985.
Instead, Mr. Bolsonaro woke up Sunday 6,000 miles away, in a rented house owned by a professional mixed-martial-arts fighter a few miles from Disney World. Facing various investigations from his time in his office, Mr. Bolsonaro flew to Orlando on Friday night and plans to stay in Florida for at least a month.
Prominent pundits on some of Brazil’s most popular talk shows are based in Florida. A far-right provocateur who faces arrest in Brazil for threatening judges has lived in Florida as he awaits a response to his political asylum request in the United States. And Carla Zambelli, one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s top allies in Brazil’s Congress, fled to Florida for nearly three weeks after she was filmed pursuing a man at gunpoint on the eve of the election.
Mr. Bolsonaro plans to stay in Florida for one to three months, giving him some distance to observe whether Mr. Lula’s administration will push any of the investigations against him, according to a close friend of the Bolsonaro family who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private plans. The Brazilian government has also authorized four aides to spend a month in Florida with Mr. Bolsonaro, according to an official notice.
On Saturday, Mr. Bolsonaro greeted his new neighbors in the driveway of his rented Orlando house, many of them Brazilian immigrants who took selfies with the departing president. He then went to a KFC to eat.
It is not uncommon for former heads of state to live in the United States for posts in academia or similar ventures. But it is unusual for a head of state to seek safe haven in the United States from possible prosecution at home, particularly when the home country is a democratic U.S. ally.
Sure, but is Florida a democratic U.S. ally? No. No, it is not.
Also, KFC? Really?