Fans flock to ask for Bolsonaro’s autographs in Florida

A couple of dozen fans got Jair Bolsonaro’s autographs on Friday, but the controversial former Brazilian president did not come out to greet them after being in hospital this week.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist politician, has been staying with a supporter in an Orlando suburb since he left Brazil in late December, and did not attend his successor’s inauguration on January 1. On Sunday, supporters of the former president who refused to accept his defeat attacked government offices in the Brazilian capital, prompting some Brazilian and US lawmakers to demand that the Biden administration expel him.

Eduardo Carvalho, 47, a Brazilian-born real estate agent and pastor from Kissimmee, Florida, stood with others outside the home of mixed martial arts fighter José Aldo on Friday. He said that the former president had not incited the attack on the capital and that he should be left alone.

“He came here legally, he did nothing wrong and why – if this is a free country – would we treat a former president like this? It’s a shame,” he stated.

Supporters handed items such as Brazilian-themed T-shirts, hats, banners and pieces of paper to a security guard outside the residence for him to autograph. A woman handed over her shoe.

The man entered three times and returned minutes later with Bolsonaro’s autographs on the objects.

Carvalho, who said he supported Bolsonaro because he had promoted family values ​​and homeschooling “free from indoctrination,” said he sent a small gift, a letter and an invitation to a religious gathering.

Bolsonaro was hospitalized on Monday with an abdominal adhesion stemming from a 2018 stab attack, the former president wrote on Instagram along with a photo of himself on a bed.

He has not published anything about his health since then, but told a Brazilian outlet on Tuesday that he would return to Brazil before the date he originally planned in late January.

He entered the United States while still president and likely held a visa reserved for sitting heads of state, which would give him at least 30 days after the end of his term before he would have to leave or apply for a visa change.

A group of 46 Democratic lawmakers wrote to President Joe Biden on Thursday to demand that Bolsonaro’s visa be canceled after riots on Sunday, in which his supporters vandalized Congress, the Federal Supreme Court and the presidential palace. The letter said that the United States should not harbor a leader “who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions.”


John Raoux in Kissimmee, Florida contributed to this report.

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