Jair Bolsonaro, the embattled former president of Brazil, has applied for a six-month tourist visa that would allow him to continue living in the United States as he faces mounting legal peril back in Brazil.
The type of visa on which Bolsonaro, a close ally of former president Donald Trump, entered the United States is not publicly known. He may have been traveling 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 have ended Monday.
Bolsonaro left for Florida on Dec. 30 before newly elected president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva was sworn into office.
The former president’s presence in the United States has prompted mounting calls from Democratic lawmakers for the government to cancel his visa so he can face investigations from his time in power and, more recently, for the recent election-related riots in Brasília.
“The United States must not provide shelter for him, or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions,” 41 House Democrats wrote in a Jan. 12 letter to President Biden.
On Jan. 8, thousands of his radical supporters stormed and ransacked Brazil’s National Congress, its Supreme Court and the president’s palace, an assault that drew similarities to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It was one of the most serious assaults on Brazil’s democracy since a 1964 military coup.
Days after the attacks, which President Biden and leaders across the world condemned, Brazil’s Supreme Court said it would investigate whether Bolsonaro instigated the far-right mob.
Although Bolsonaro has condemned the violence on Jan. 8 and denied any role in it, he spent his four years in power sowing doubt in Brazil’s electoral system and spreading baseless claims that it was 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 to Facebook on Jan. 10 that questioned his election loss. Although it was posted two days after the riots and deleted a day later, prosecutors argued it would “have the power to incite new acts of civil insurgency.”
Bolsonaro also faces several criminal cases that cover alleged wrongdoing during his four-year administration. Among them, The Washington Post previously reported, are allegations of interfering with federal police, spreading disinformation about the reliability of Brazil’s election system and leaking classified information.
They also 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 world’s largest and deadliest outbreaks.
But as investigations loomed over the right-wing Brazilian leader, who has been called “the Trump of the Tropics,” he fled to the Sunshine State.
He found refuge in Kissimmee, a resort community close to Disney World, where he has been living in the home of a former martial arts fighter. He has been spotted eating alone at Kentucky Fried Chicken and posing for selfies with adoring fans who show up at the home where he is 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 suggested he would return to Brazil this month. But one person familiar with his thinking who spoked on the condition of anonymity to discuss private plans previously told The Post that the ex-president remains concerned about his possible arrest in Brazil.
Tim Craig, Anthony Faiola and Marina Dias contributed to this report.