Teary Bolsonaro calls loss unfair, condemns violence, flies to Florida


SÃO PAULO – Two days before leaving office, ending four tumultuous years as race, Amazon development, coronavirus downplaying and vaccine skeptic leader of Latin America’s largest country, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro he remained defiant in a tearful farewell speech on Friday, defending his record and saying the election that led to his impeachment was not fair, but condemning violence against the result.

He then flew to Florida, Brazilian media reported, where he met former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in the past. He apparently planned to skip the inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday, when the outgoing leader traditionally presents the presidential sash to his successor, a ceremony meant to reaffirm the country’s young democracy.

Bolsonaro’s remarks, broadcast live for nearly an hour Friday morning, were his most extensive since losing the October election. He has not yet conceded the race, but he has acknowledged that a new administration would take over on Sunday.

“Nothing is lost,” he told supporters. “Brazil is a fantastic country, and Brazil doesn’t end on the first of January.”

Lula won the closest election ever in Brazil. This was the easy part.

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Security concerns are growing around Lula’s inauguration in Brasilia on Sunday. Bolsonaro’s supporters have camped outside army facilities since his defeat on October 30 to call for a military coup to keep him in power. A group of radical Bolsonaroists torched buses and tried to storm federal police headquarters in the capital this month after the arrest of a Bolsonaro supporter accused of “explicitly summoning armed people to prevent the certification of elected officials” .

On Saturday, police said they defused a bomb planted by a Bolsonaro supporter in a tanker truck full of gas near Brasilia’s international airport. They said the suspect told investigators his plan was to cause mayhem to attract military intervention.

Bolsonaro asked his supporters last month not to block highways, but said the rallies outside army facilities were legitimate protests. On Friday, he condemned the violent demonstrations and regretted that the Brazilian media had linked the bomb suspect to him.

“Nothing justifies this attempted terrorist act here at Brasilia airport,” Bolsonaro said. “[Have] intelligence We show that we are different from the other side, that we respect the rules and the Constitution”.

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His actions may seem familiar to Americans. Trump, a Bolsonaro ally, blamed his 2020 re-election loss on unfounded allegations of fraud, refused to concede, urged his supporters to protest the result and skipped President Biden’s inauguration.

Bolsonaro said it had been difficult to remain silent for two months, but refrained from speaking because anything he said “could make things more tumultuous.”

“I didn’t leave the four lines” of the Constitution, he said, comparing the document to a football field. “Either we live in a democracy or not. Nobody wants an affair.”

Gun ownership increased. Homicides went down. Brazil debates why.

Bolsonaro tried to explain to his most radical supporters why he did not accept stronger efforts to stay in power. After spending years questioning the security of electronic voting machines, many of their supporters have claimed without evidence that the election was stolen.

“Now, a lot of times, even within the four lines, you have to have support,” he said. But he found no support in the electoral court, in congress or in the armed forces to reverse the electoral result. He asked his party to file a lawsuit over possible vote fraud, but the electoral court quickly rejected the lawsuit.

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He said he recognized the suffering of his followers but asked them to put themselves in their place. He said they had lost a battle, but not the war. As he spoke, comments expressing frustration began to appear on his Facebook page.

“Unfortunately we are adrift,” one person wrote. “So there was no fraud??? Hope is gone.”

Bolsonaro said he would lead the opposition to Lula.

“The image is not good, but that is not why we will throw in the towel and stop opposing,” he said.

After the farewell, Brazilian media reported, he boarded the Força Aérea Brasileira — Brazil’s Air Force One — on a flight to Orlando. The presidency did not confirm his departure to The Washington Post, but recent filings in the Federal Register have indicated preparations for that trip.

Days after Bolsonaro’s loss, allies met with Trump aides in the United States to discuss next steps. His son Eduardo, a Brazilian congressman, met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago last month in Palm Beach, Florida.


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