Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro leaves for the US ahead of Lula’s inauguration

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São Paulo, Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro left Brazil for the United States on Friday, according to CNN Brasil, two days before the inauguration of his successor, President-elect Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva.

Bolsonaro took off from Brasília’s air base in a Brazilian Air Force plane. He was accompanied by advisers and first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, CNN Brasil reported.

“I’m on a flight, I’ll be back soon,” Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil.

His decision to leave comes as Brazil’s government issued an ordinance on Friday authorizing five civil servants to accompany “future ex-president” Bolsonaro to Miami, Florida, between January 1 and 30, 2023.

While it is unclear when Bolsonaro plans to return, his trip to the US may break with Brazilian convention of outgoing leaders being present at their successors’ inauguration ceremony. Lula da Silva is due to be inaugurated on Sunday.

Bolsonaro earlier on Friday said goodbye to his supporters in live broadcast shared online.

“Brazil will not end on January 1, you can be sure about that,” the outgoing president said in reference to Lula da Silva’s inauguration date.

“Today we have a mass of people who know more about politics”, he continued. “They understand they are at risk. Good will win. We have leaders all over Brazil. New politicians or reelected politicians, they will make a difference.”

Supporters of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro watch his farwell video outside the official residence Alvorada Palace in Brasilia on Friday.

He also condemned a bombing attempt at an airport in Brasilia.

The suspect, who was arrested last weekend, said in a written statement to police that he intended to “create chaos” so as to prevent former Lula da Silva from taking office again in January.

“There is no justification, here in Brasília, for this … terrorist act, here in the region of the Brasília airport. Nothing justifies it.” Bolsonaro said Friday.

Bolsonaro’s administration has said it is cooperating with the transition of power, but the far-right leader has stopped short of explicitly conceding his election loss on October 30. In protest, thousands of his supporters have gathered at military barracks across the country, asking the army to step in as they claim, with no evidence, that the election was stolen.

Yet on Friday, Bolsonaro revoked an ordinance that banned the entry of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and other authorities from that country in Brazil.

The request to lift the ban came from Lula da Silva’s team, according to the president-elect’s press officer. Maduro was invited to the inauguration.

The ordinance, which began in August 2019, was enacted by Bolsonaro himself. A new ordinance was published in the federal government’s official journal on Friday.

In November, Maduro announced on social media that he and Lula had agreed to resume a “cooperation agenda” between the two countries, after Bolsonaro’s government adopted a hostile stance towards Brazil’s Latin American neighbor.

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