BRASILIA, Brazil — Former President Jair Bolsonaro said Saturday he intends to return to Brazil “in the following weeks.”
The comment during an event at an evangelical church in Florida was the first time that Bolsonaro has made a statement in public about returning home.
The far-right politician has been in the U.S. since arriving in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 31, the eve of the inauguration of his leftist rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as Brazil’s current president.
Saturday’s event was held entirely in Portuguese for a Brazilian crowd of Bolsonaro supporters living abroad and was organized by the right-wing organization Yes Brazil USA. Bolsonaro was cheered throughout the event.
There has been speculation during recent weeks on when Bolsonaro might return to Brazil, where is the subject of several investigations into possible wrongdoing.
He initially entered the U.S. on a one-month diplomatic visa, which ended Jan. 31. He was accompanied by a team of presidential advisers and his wife, all of whom left Florida last month.
Lawyers for Bolsonaro told Brazilian media recently that they applied for a tourist visa to extend his stay in the U.S.
Amid the speculation about Bolsonaro’s plans, one of his sons, Sen. Flavio Bolsonaro, told Brazilian reporters that he didn’t know when his father would return. “It could be tomorrow, it could be in six months, he might never return. I don’t know. He’s relaxing,” the son said.
For the first time in his more than three-decade political career as a lawmaker and then as president, Bolsonaro no longer enjoys the special legal protection that requires any trial be held at the Supreme Court.
Bolsonaro is being investigated in four inquiries, which had been in the Supreme Court and were sent to trial court this past week.
Among the inquiries is whether Bolsonaro had any role in inciting the Jan. 8 riot by his supporters who stormed into government buildings in the capital, Brasilia, demanding his election defeat to Lula be overturned.
Investigators are also looking into who organized and financed the mass gathering of Bolsonaro supporters, who came to the capital from all over Brazil.
One of the investigations held by the Brazilian justice is who are the ones responsible for inciting the crimes, as well as who financed people from all over the country to travel to Brasilia.