Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said late Saturday that he plans to return to Brazil “in the coming weeks” after arriving in the United States in December.
“I too want to return to Brazil. I intend to return to Brazil in the coming weeks,” the right-wing ex-leader said during a meeting with Brazilian supporters in Boca Raton, Florida, according to a video broadcast by CNN Brasil.
Bolsonaro traveled to the United States in late December, several days before supporters stormed government buildings in Brasilia in an attempt to overturn the election victory of his rival, leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly cast doubt on Lula’s narrow win.
“We had governance without corruption. We worked with heart, with honesty. No retaliation, or persecution, is justified,” he said on Saturday.
Bolsonaro, 67, is under investigation in Brazil over an alleged role in the January 8 assault on national institutions.
Six hours after mobs stormed Brazil’s presidential palace, Congress and supreme court, Bolsonaro denied any responsibility.
Lula said on February 2 that he was “certain” the former president had “prepared the coup.”
The incident in Brasilia has been compared to the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol by supporters of former US president Donald Trump.
On Saturday, Bolsonaro told his supporters in Florida they “must face the problems.”
“Sometimes we have to take risks, it is worth it. You can be sure that the majority of the Brazilian people are with us,” he said.
The former army captain arrived in the United States on December 30, just before Lula’s inauguration on January 1.
Bolsonaro kept a low profile during his first weeks in Florida — his only known outings were a trip to a supermarket and a KFC restaurant to eat fried chicken alone.
But he has since made public appearances, giving two speeches before Saturday to cheers from supporters.
He previously told CNN Brasil that he had planned to return to Brazil by the end of last month, and was considering moving his departure earlier for health reasons.
But then in late January, Bolsonaro’s lawyer said he had applied for a six-month visa to stay in the United States.
One of his sons, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, has suggested the ex-president had no date for a return to Brazil.
“It may be tomorrow, or six months from now, or he may never come back,” he said.