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After riots in Brazil, calls for Bolsonaro to be extradited from Florida

Former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, center, met with supporters outside a vacation home where he is staying near Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.Skyler Swisher/Associated Press

As thousands of his supporters laid siege to Brazil’s centers of power Sunday — storming Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential office — former president Jair Bolsonaro was believed to be in Florida, staying at a resort community near Disney World.

Bolsonaro reportedly landed in Florida just days before his term ended in late December. Before leaving for the United States, Bolsonaro had challenged the results of the election he lost in October to leftist rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and he also faced several investigations from his time in office, media outlets reported.


Before leaving Brazil, Bolsonaro declined to concede and called the result of the election unfair in a farewell message to his supporters, where he said the election was not impartial but discouraged his supporters from engaging in violence aimed at overturning the election.

But on Sunday throngs of his supporters attacked the country’s institutions, leaving windows shattered, artwork vandalized, and the interiors of buildings severely damaged. The riots drew immediate comparisons to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

Now several high-profile Democrats are calling for Bolsonaro to be extradited to Brazil in light of the riots.

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro was among the first elected representatives to urge the Biden administration and local authorities in Florida to send Bolsonaro back to Brazil. On Twitter, he expressed his support for the newly inaugurated Lula, who has promised to bring the rioters to justice.

“Domestic terrorists and fascists cannot be allowed to use Trump’s playbook to undermine democracy,” Castro wrote. “Bolsonaro must not be given refuge in Florida, where he’s been hiding from accountability for his crimes.”

He made similar remarks while speaking with CNN’s Jim Acosta Sunday night, stating that the former far-right president “should be extradited to Brazil” and that Bolsonaro “used the Trump playbook to inspire domestic terrorists to try to take over the government.”


“In fact, it was reported that he was under investigation for corruption and fled Brazil to the United States,” said Castro, who compared the scenes in Brazil to the Jan. 6 riots. “He’s a dangerous man, [and] they should send him back to his home country, Brazil.”

President Biden condemned the “assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil” and said he looks forward to continuing to work with Lula in the months ahead.

“Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined,” Biden tweeted.

After Lula accused Bolsonaro of playing a role in the uprising during a news conference Sunday, Bolsonaro denied the accusation and criticized the protests.

“Peaceful demonstrations ... are part of democracy,” he posted on Twitter. “However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today,” are not lawful.

The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that Bolsonaro has been dubbed the “Trump of the tropics” after breaking tradition by skipping Lula’s inauguration and leaving for Florida.

His supporters, according to the newspaper, have showed up outside the vacation home he is staying at “draped in Brazilian flags and Bolsonaro garb.” Bolsonaro is reportedly staying at the vacation home of Jose Aldo, a retired UFC fighter.


The New York Times reported that Bolsonaro plans on staying in Florida for “one to three months,” while he waits to see whether the Lula administration will “push any of the investigations against him.”

In recent days, videos uploaded to social media have shown Bolsonaro greeting his neighbors, taking selfies and signing autographs with supporters, wandering around the grocery aisles of a Publix, and eating chicken at a local KFC.

But other Democrats are joining Castro in calling for Bolsonaro to be extradited. Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan wrote on Twitter that he is in “full agreement” with sending Bolsonaro back to Brazil and that the former president “must come out of hiding, condemn the violence [and] stop his supporters immediately.”

Meanwhile, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that just two years after the Capitol attack, we are now seeing “fascist movements abroad attempt to do the same in Brazil.”

“The US must cease granting refuge to Bolsonaro in Florida,” she wrote.

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar wrote that “democracies around the world must stand united to condemn this attack on democracy” and that “Bolsonaro should not be given refuge in Florida.”

Shannon Larson can be reached at Follow her @shannonlarson98.