The White House has not had any contact with former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro or fielded any requests from his successor about his status after Bolsonaro supporters stormed Brazil’s government buildings to protest his election defeat.
“We’re not, as far as I know, in direct contact with Bolsonaro, so I can’t speak definitively about his whereabouts,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday while in Mexico City, where President Biden is attending meetings with other North American leaders.
“We have not, as of now, received any official requests from the Brazilian government related to Bolsonaro,” Sullivan continued. “Of course, if we did receive such requests, we’d treat them the way we always do, we’d treat them seriously.”
Hundreds of protesters stormed Brazil’s government buildings on Sunday, vandalizing the presidential office building, Congress and Supreme Court. Brazilian authorities detained more than 1,000 people in the aftermath of the riots. It marked the worst attack on Brazilian democracy since its military dictatorship was replaced nearly 40 years ago.
Bolsonaro was defeated in October and left the country last month before his successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, took office on Jan. 1. The New York Times reported Bolsonaro, an ally of former President Trump, has been staying in the Orlando area in recent weeks.
Bolsonaro throughout last year’s campaign sowed doubt about whether the election would be conducted fairly, and he did not directly concede defeat following October’s vote. The former president tweeted Sunday pushing back on protests that are not peaceful.
Some U.S. lawmakers have said in the wake of the riots in Brazil that Bolsonaro should not be given refuge in Florida.
“Nearly 2 years to the day the US Capitol was attacked by fascists, we see fascist movements abroad attempt to do the same in Brazil,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted. “We must stand in solidarity with @LulaOficial’s democratically elected government. The US must cease granting refuge to Bolsonaro in Florida.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted that Bolsonaro “must not be given refuge in Florida, where he’s been hiding from accountability for his crimes.”
Sullivan on Monday deferred to the State Department for questions about visas and emphasized that he wanted to speak carefully about Bolsonaro’s case given the sensitive nature of the situation.
Biden on Sunday condemned the riots as an “assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined.”