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

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SÃO PAULO – Two days before leaving office at the end of a tumultuous four-year stint as the leader of Latin America’s largest developing, developing, coronavirus-disparaging, vaccine-skeptic country, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro remained defiant as he delivered a tearful farewell speech. Defending his record on Friday, he said the election that ousted him was not fair, but condemned violence over the results.

He then flew to Florida, Brazilian media reported, where he had earlier met with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. He apparently planned to miss Sunday’s inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, when the outgoing leader traditionally hands the presidential sash to his successor. This ceremony aims to reaffirm the country’s young democracy.

Bolsonaro’s remarks, which were broadcast live for nearly an hour on Friday morning, were the most extensive since he lost the election in October. He still hasn’t given up on the race, but acknowledged that a new administration will take over on Sunday.

“Nothing is lost,” he told his supporters. “Brazil is a fantastic country and Brazil doesn’t end on January 1st.

Lula won Brazil’s closest election. That was the easy part.

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Concerns are growing over security ahead of Lula’s inauguration in Brazil on Sunday. Supporters of Bolsonaro since his October 30 in defeat camped out at army installations, demanding a military coup to keep him in power. A group of radical Bolsonaros set fire to buses and tried to storm federal police headquarters in the capital this month after the arrest of a Bolsonaro supporter who was accused of “clearly calling for armed people to prevent the attestation of elected” officials.

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

Bolsonaro last month asked supporters not to block highways, but said the gatherings outside military installations were legitimate protests. On Friday, he condemned the violent demonstrations and lamented that Brazilian media had linked the suspected bomb to him.

“Nothing justifies this attempted terrorist attack here at a Brazilian airport,” Bolsonaro said. “[Have] Intelligence. Let’s show that we are different from the other side, that we respect the norms and the Constitution”.

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His actions may sound familiar to Americans. Trump, an ally of Bolsonaro, has seen his defeat in 2020 after the re-election he accused baseless allegations of fraud, refused to concede, called on his supporters to protest the result and missed the inauguration of President Biden.

Bolsonaro said it was difficult to remain silent for two months, but he refrained from speaking because anything he said “could turn it into an even more stormy affair.”

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

Gun ownership has increased. Homicides are down. Brazil is debating why.

Bolsonaro sought to explain to his more radical supporters why he did not make a stronger effort to stay in power. After he questioned the security of electronic voting machines for years, many of his supporters claimed without evidence that the election was stolen.

“A lot of times now, even in four lines, you need support,” he said. However, he found no support in the election court, congress, or the armed forces to change the outcome of the election. He asked his party to file a lawsuit alleging possible vote fraud, but the electoral court quickly dismissed the lawsuit.

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He said he acknowledged the suffering of his supporters but asked them to stand in his place. He said they lost the battle but not the war. As he spoke, comments expressing frustration began to appear on his Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, we’re lost,” one person wrote. “So there was no fraud??? Hope is over.”

Bolsonaro said he would lead Lula’s opposition.

“It’s not a good picture, but that’s not why we’re going to throw in the towel and stop objecting,” he said.

Brazilian media reported that he boarded Força Aérea Brasileira, Brazil’s Air Force One, after being selected for Orlando. The presidency did not confirm his departure to The Washington Post, but recent information provided to the Federal Register indicates that such a trip is in the works.

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


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