U.S., Canada, Mexico slam Brazil unrest amid questions on Bolsonaro’s Florida stay

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janvier 9, 2023

President Joe Biden and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts on Monday denounced the weekend storming of Brazil’s government institutions, pledging to support the recently elected leader of the country, whose predecessor has fueled doubts about his legitimacy.

The statement from the three men came as they attended the North American Leaders’ Summit and as Democrats called for the former Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, to get kicked out of the United States. Bolsonaro is reported to have been staying in Florida after he skipped the inauguration of his recent successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, widely known as Lula.

Unwilling to accept his defeat, Bolsonaro supporters on Sunday stormed Brazil’s presidential, congressional and supreme court buildings. The events echoed the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, a supporter of Bolsonaro. Like Trump, Bolsonaro has a strongman style and sought to sow doubts about the election which he lost.

Monday’s statement from Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was short and terse, but it put the countries’ full support behind Lula.

“We stand with Brazil as it safeguards its democratic institutions. Our governments support the free will of the people of Brazil. We look forward to working with President Lula on delivering for our countries, the Western Hemisphere, and beyond,” the three leaders said.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against the Brazilian attacks since Sunday, while Republicans, possibly due to concerns about avoiding Trump’s ire, were largely quiet as of Monday morning.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, was among the lawmakers who said the United States needs to kick Bolsonaro out of Florida and back to Brazil, where the former president is under investigation on a number of allegations.

“Bolsonaro must not be given refuge in Florida, where he’s been hiding from accountability for his crimes,” Castro tweeted.

The State Department declined to comment on the type of visa the former Brazilian leader used to enter the United States, saying such records are confidential. But the United States generally has broad leeway to revoke visas.

Since losing office, Bolsonaro has sent mixed signals about his views on what his supporters should do to back his claims of a rigged election. It’s not clear what precisely sparked the attacks on Sunday.

But the former president on Sunday did tweet out a careful condemnation that also dinged his political foes: “Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule.”

Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, has close ties with Trump-aligned conservative figures in the United States, such as Steve Bannon and Jason Miller, and has been in contact with them since the October presidential election.

On his “War Room” podcast on Monday, Bannon claimed the Bolsonaros have not been involved in the unrest in Brazil, and he mocked allegations that he himself orchestrated the assaults. But he has been supportive of the protesters’ efforts.

On Sunday, Bannon called the protesters “Brazilian freedom fighters.” And he has continued to allege corruption and fraud in Brazil’s election and on Monday called for Lula to “open up the machines.”

Meredith McGraw contributed to this report.

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