Brazil: Bolsonaro returns home to lead opposition

Jair Bolsonaro has returned to Brazil after a three-month self-imposed exile in the US to return to politics complicating life for his successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil: Bolsonaro returns home to lead opposition


Brazil's far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro returned from the United States on Thursday. Hundreds of supporters gathered at the Brasilia airport to welcome him back after three months. Bolsonaro fled Brazil shortly before his successor's inauguration.

Bolsonaro, who never conceded defeat in last year's election, he is expected to lead the opposition to leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, officials in his PL party said.

Looming legal woes

The former president is facing legal battles on different fronts in Brazil. Particularly for his alleged role in inciting supporters to riot in a bid to oust Lula who beat him in the October polls.

Legal probes have focused on Bolsanaro's attacks against Brazil's voting system. Others include not less than five Supreme Court investigations that would potentially send put him behind bars.

A recent scandal alleged that he tried to illegally import and keep millions of dollars worth of jewelry gifted by Saudi Arabia in 2019.

A return to politics

Bolsonaro said he plans to crisscross Brazil "doing politics" and "upholding the banner of conservatism."

"I'm going to participate with my party as someone with experience," he said before his flight. Contrary to what his PL party has said, Bolsonaro added, "I'm not going to lead any opposition."

Security was beefed up and traffic was blocked along the capital mall to prevent the risk of violent protests when he arrived in Brazil.

The Liberal Party said he would travel to the party headquarters from the airport then meet party leader Valdemar Costa, his wife Michelle and "other authorities" in a closed-door event.

Although the party plans for a low-key event, his supporters have other ideas with viral calls on social media for supporters to flood the airport to welcome the man they call "Messiah" or "Messias," Bolsonaro's middle name.

The return could reenergize the opposition, which has been weakened by his exile and widespread criticism of the violence and destruction during the January 8 demonstrations.

"We've had five months of a basically dismantled opposition. Now, Bolsonaro's return to Brazil looks set to unite the right," political analyst Jairo Nicolau of the Getulio Vargas Foundation told the AFP news agency. "That could make a big difference. Lula will have to govern with a united opposition."

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