The attack came a week after the inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in a runoff election in October.
Images on Globo TV showed protesters roaming the halls and standing near smashed glass cases in the Planalto Palace, the office of the president. Thousands of others wearing the national soccer shirt — now a symbol of the far right — and waving the Brazilian flag milled about the massive square outside in a part of the Brasilia capital that is similar to Washington’s National Mall.
“This absurd attempt to impose the will by force will not prevail,” Lula’s justice minister Flavio Dino tweeted shortly after the invasion began around 2:30 p.m. local time. “The Government of the Federal District claims that there will be reinforcements. And the forces at our disposal are at work. I’m at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice.”
The incident captured the uncanny parallels between Bolsonaro and his political lodestar, Trump, and came after months in which pundits have feared a Jan. 6 style copycat action here.
In a manner similar to Trump, Bolsonaro has fueled discontent among his base since his loss to the newly-inaugurated leftist, stepping down while refusing to officially concede.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Shaking a traditional rattle, Brazil’s incoming head of Indigenous affairs recently walked through every corner of the agency’s headquarters — even its coffee room — as she invoked help from ancestors during a ritual cleansing.
The ritual carried extra meaning for Joenia Wapichana, Brazil’s first Indigenous woman to command the agency charged with protecting the Amazon rainforest and its people. Once she is sworn in next month under newly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio da Silva, Wapichana promises to clean house at an agency that critics say has allowed the Amazon's resources to be exploited at the expense of the environment.
As Wapichana performed the ritual, Indigenous people and government officials enthusiastically chanted “Yoohoo! Funai is ours!’’ — a reference to the agency she will lead.
Environmentalists, Indigenous people and voters sympathetic to their causes were important to Lula's narrow victory over former President Jair Bolsonaro. Now Lula is seeking to fulfill campaign pledges he made to them on a wide range of issues, from expanding Indigenous territories to halting a surge in illegal deforestation.
To carry out these goals, Lula is appointing well-known environmentalists and Indigenous people to key positions at Funai and other agencies that Bolsonaro had filled with allies of agribusiness and military officers.
In Lula's previous two terms as president, he had a mixed record on environmental and Indigenous issues. And he is certain to face obstacles from pro-Bolsonaro state governors who still control swaths of the Amazon. But experts say Lula is taking the right first steps.
The federal officials Lula has already named to key posts “have the national and international prestige to reverse all the environmental destruction that we have suffered over these four years of the Bolsonaro government,” said George Porto Ferreira, an analyst at Ibama, Brazil’s environmental law-enforcement agency.
Bolsonaro's supporters, meanwhile, fear that Lula's promise of stronger environmental protections will hurt the economy by reducing the amount of land open for development, and punish people for activities that had previously been allowed. Some supporters with ties to agribusiness have been accused of providing financial and logistical assistance to rioters who earlier this month stormed Brazil's presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court.
When Bolsonaro was president, he defanged Funai and other agencies responsible for environmental oversight. This enabled deforestation to soar to its highest level since 2006, as developers and miners who took land from Indigenous people faced few consequences.
(AP Photos/Leo Correa, File)
Between 2019 and 2022, the number of fines handed out for illegal activities in the Amazon declined by 38% compared with the previous four years, according an analysis of Brazilian government data by the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental nonprofit groups.
One of the strongest signs yet of Lula's intentions to reverse these trends was his decision to return Marina Silva to lead the country's environmental ministry. Silva formerly held the job between 2003 and 2008, a period when deforestation declined by 53%. A former rubber-tapper from Acre state, Silva resigned after clashing with government and agribusiness leaders over environmental policies she deemed to be too lenient.
Silva strikes a strong contrast with Bolsonaro’s first environment minister, Ricardo Salles, who had never set foot in the Amazon when he took office in 2019 and resigned two years later following allegations that he had facilitated the export of illegally felled timber.
Other measures Lula has taken in support of the Amazon and its people include:
— Signing a decree that would rejuvenate the most significant international effort to preserve the rainforest — the Amazon Fund. The fund, which Bolsonaro had gutted, has received more than $1.2 billion, mostly from Norway, to help pay for sustainable development of the Amazon.
— Revoking a Bolsonaro decree that allowed mining in Indigenous and environmental protection areas.
— Creating a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, which will oversee everything from land boundaries to education. This ministry will be led by Sônia Guajajara, the country's first Indigenous woman in such a high government post.
“It won't be easy to overcome 504 years in only four years. But we are willing to use this moment to promote a take-back of Brazil's spiritual force," Guajajara said during her induction ceremony, which was delayed by the damage pro-Bolsonaro rioters caused to the presidential palace.
The Amazon rainforest, which covers an area twice the size of India, acts as a buffer against climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide. But Bolsonaro viewed management of the Amazon as an internal affair, causing Brazil's global reputation to take a hit. Lula is trying to undo that damage.
During the UN’s climate summit in Egypt in November, Lula pledged to end all deforestation by 2030 and announced his country’s intention to host the COP30 climate conference in 2025. Brazil had been scheduled to host the event in 2019, but Bolsonaro canceled it in 2018 right after he was elected.
While Lula has ambitious environmental goals, the fight to protect the Amazon faces complex hurdles. For example, getting cooperation from local officials won't be easy.
Six out of nine Amazonian states are run by Bolsonaro allies. Those include Rondonia, where settlers of European descent control local power and have dismantled environmental legislation through the state assembly; and Acre, where a lack of economic opportunities is driving rubber-tappers who had long fought to preserve the rainforest to take up cattle grazing instead.
The Amazon has also been plagued for decades by illegal gold mining, which employs tens of thousands of people in Brazil and other countries, such as Peru and Venezuela. The illegal mining causes mercury contamination of rivers that Indigenous peoples rely upon for fishing and drinking.
“Its main cause is the state's absence,” says Gustavo Geiser, a forensics expert with the Federal Police who has worked in the Amazon for over 15 years.
One area where Lula has more control is in designating Indigenous territories, which are the best preserved regions in the Amazon.
Lula is under pressure to create 13 new Indigenous territories — a process that had stalled under Bolsonaro, who kept his promise not to grant “one more inch” of land to Indigenous peoples.
A major step will be to expand the size of Uneiuxi, part of one of the most remote and culturally diverse regions of the world that is home to 23 peoples. The process of expanding the boundaries of Uneiuxi started four decades ago, and the only remaining step is a presidential signature, which will increase its size by 37% to 551,000 hectares (2,100 square miles).
“Lula already indicated that he would not have any problem doing that,” said Kleber Karipuna, a close aide of Guajajara.
Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian police said Monday they planned to indict a Colombian fish trader as the mastermind of last year's slayings of Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips.
Ruben Dario da Silva Villar provided the ammunition to kill the pair, made phone calls to the confessed killer before and after the crime, and paid his lawyer, federal police officials said during a press conference held in Manaus.
Fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, nicknamed Pelado, confessed that he shot Phillips and Pereira and has been under arrest since soon after the killings in early June. He and three other relatives are accused of participating in the crime. They all live in an impoverished riverine community inside a federal agrarian reform settlement between the city of Atalaia do Norte and Javari Valley Indigenous Territory.
Villar has denied any wrongdoing in the case. Before Monday's announcement, he was already being held on charges of using false Brazilian and Peruvian documents and leading an illegal fishing scheme. According to the investigation, he financed local fishermen to fish inside Javari Valley Indigenous Territory.
In a statement, UNIVAJA, the local Indigenous association that employed Pereira, said it believed there were other significant planners behind the killings who have not been arrested.
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Pereira and Phillips were traveling in the remote area of the Amazon when they disappeared, and their bodies were recovered after the confessions. Phillips was researching for a book about how to save the world’s largest rainforest.
XAPURI, Brazil (AP) — Rubber tapper Raimundo Mendes de Barros prepares to leave his home, surrounded by rainforest, for an errand in the Brazilian Amazon city of Xapuri. He slides his long, scarred, 77-year-old feet into a pair of sneakers made by Veja, a French brand.
At first sight, the expensive, white-detailed urban tennis shoes seem at odds with the muddy tropical forest. But the distant worlds have converged to produce soles made from native Amazonian rubber.
Veja works with a local cooperative called Cooperacre, which has reenergized the production of a sustainable forest product and improved the lives of hundreds of rubber tapper families. It's a project that, though modest in scale, provides a real-life example of living sustainably from the forest.
“Veja and Cooperacre are doing an essential job for us who live in the forest. They are making young people come back. They have rekindled the hope of working with rubber," Rogério Barros, Raimundo’s 24-year-old son, told The Associated Press as he demonstrated how to tap a rubber tree in the family’s grove in the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve. Extractive reserves in Brazil are government-owned lands set aside for people to make a living while they keep the forest standing.
Rubber was once central to the economy of the Amazon. The first boom came at the turn of the 20th century. Thousands of people migrated inland from Brazil's impoverished Northeast to work in the forest, often in slave-like conditions.
That boom ended abruptly in the 1910s when rubber plantations started to produce on a large scale in Asia. But during World War II, Japan cut the supply, prompting the United States to finance a restart of rubber production in the Amazon.
After the war, Amazon latex commerce again fell into decline, even as thousands of families continued to work in poor conditions for rubber bosses. In the 1970s, these relatively wealthy individuals began selling land to cattle ranchers from the south, even though, in most cases, they didn’t actually own it, but rather just held concessions because they were well-connected with government officers.
These land sales caused the large scale expulsion of rubber tappers from the forest. That loss of livelihood and deforestation to make way for cattle raising is what prompted the famous environmentalist Chico Mendes — together with a cousin of Barros — to found and lead a movement of rubber tappers. Mendes would be murdered for his work in 1988.
After Mendes' assasination, the federal government began to create extractive reserves so that the forest could not be sold to make way for cattle. The Chico Mendes reserve is one of these. But the story did not end with the creation of the reserves. Government attempts to promote the latex, including a state-owned condom factory in Xapuri, failed to create a reliable income.
What sets the Veja operation apart is that rubber tappers are now getting paid far above the commodity price for their rubber. In 2022, the Barros family received US$ 4.20 per kilo (2.2 pounds) of rubber tapped from their grove. Before, they made one tenth that amount.
This price that shoe company Veja pays the tappers includes bonuses for sustainable harvests plus recognition of the value of preserving the forest, explains Sebastião Pereira, in charge of Veja’s Amazonian rubber supply chain. The rubber workers also receive federal and state benefits per kilo.
Veja also pays bonuses to tappers who employ best practices and local cooperatives that buy directly from them. The criteria range from zero deforestation to the proper management of rubber trees. Top producers also receive a pair of shoes as a prize.
Veja’s rubber is produced by some 1,200 families from 22 local cooperatives spread across five Amazonian states: Acre, home to the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, Amazonas, Rondonia, Mato Grosso, and Pará.
All the rubber goes to the Cooperacre plant in Sena Madureira, in Acre state, where raw product is cut, washed, shredded into smaller pieces, heated, weighed, packed and finally shipped to factories that Veja contracts with in industrialized Rio Grande Sul state, thousands of miles to the south, as well as to Ceara state, in Brazil's Northeast.
From there the sneakers are distributed to many parts of the world. Over the last 20 years, Veja has sold more than 8 million pairs in several countries and maintains stores in Paris, New York and Berlin. The amount of Amazon rubber it purchases has soared: from 5,000 kilos (11,023 pounds) in 2005 to 709,500 kilos (1.56 million pounds) in 2021, according to company figures.
However, it has not been a game changer for the forest in the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, where almost 3,000 families live. The illegal advance of cattle, an old problem, has picked up. Deforestation there has tripled in the past four years, amid the policies of former President Jair Bolsonaro, who was defeated in his reelection bid and left office at the end of last year.
Cattle long ago replaced rubber as Acre’s main economic activity. Nearly half of the state’s rural workforce is employed in cattle ranching, where only 4% live from forest products, mainly Brazil nuts.
According to an economic study by Minas Gerais Federal University, 57% of Acre’s economic output comes from cattle. Rubber makes up less than 1%.
Surrounded by cattle pasture and paved highway — the entry point for deforestation — Chico Mendes has the third highest rate of deforestation of any protected reserve in Brazil.
The growing pressure of cattle on the reserve, which has already lost 9% of its original forest cover, even led Veja to set up its own satellite monitoring system.
“Our platform shows a specific region where deforestation is rampant. So we may go there and talk. But we are aware that our role is to offer an alternative and raise awareness,” Pereira told the AP in a phone interview. “We are careful not to cross the line, as the public authority should be the one doing the law enforcement.”
According to Roberta Graf, who leads Acre’s branch of the association of federal environmental officials, the Veja experience is essential as it shows a path for living inside extractive reserves sustainably. But to achieve that, she argues, requires a joint effort that includes government at different levels, nonprofits and grassroots organizations.
“The forest communities still hold rubber tapping dear. They enjoy making a living off the latex,” she told the AP in an interview in her home in Rio Branco, Acre’s capital. “There are many forest products: copaiba, andiroba (vegetable oils), Brazil nuts, wild cacao, and seeds. The ideal should be to work with all of them according to what each reserve can offer."
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s federal police searched the home of a nephew of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday in connection with the Jan. 8 storming of government buildings in the capital by far-right protesters.
Police said Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, known by Bolsonaro supporters as Leo Índio, was one of the targets of a series of raids that led to 11 arrests in different states. It was the first time a member of Bolsonaro's family has been included in the investigations of the uprising in Brasilia, which underlined the political polarization in Brazil.
Police said those under investigation could be tried for crimes against democracy and criminal association.
De Jesus posted his picture near the entrance of the Congress building on social media on the day of the uprising. Later, Bolsonaro’s nephew accused leftists of infiltrating the protest to attack government buildings. Police investigations have found no evidence to back up this claim.
De Jesus has a close relationship to one of Bolsonaro’s sons, Carlos Bolsonaro, a city council member in Rio de Janeiro. The two often appeared together at the presidential palace in Brasilia when the far-right president was in office. Their visits were kept secret by the Bolsonaro administration following opposition criticism.
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De Jesus was one of Carlos Bolsonaro’s aides in Rio and moved to Brasilia in 2019. He joined a senator’s Cabinet team and later Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party group as an adviser at the Senate. He was later fired after the local media revealed he was a “phantom employee” — someone who did not show up for work but still was paid for the post.
In 2022, he ran as a Federal District councilor but didn’t gather enough votes.
De Jesus has been investigated by Rio de Janeiro’s judicial authorities since 2021, when it was alleged he received money transfers from the Cabinet of one of Bolsonaro’s sons, Flavio, when he was on the city council. Public money was also allegedly used to pay De Jesus’ rent.
The Supreme Court had already requested De Jesus’ preventative arrest in connection with the Jan. 8 attacks, but police said he had not been detained yet. De Jesus can appeal that order, but he declared a lack of funds to pay the costs of his attorneys.
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has filed a request for a six-month visitor visa to stay in the U.S., indicating he may have no immediate intention of returning home, where legal issues await.
The application was first reported by The Financial Times, citing Bolsonaro's immigration lawyer, Felipe Alexandre. Contacted by The Associated Press, the lawyer's firm, AG Immigration, confirmed the report.
Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida on Dec. 30, two days before the inauguration of his leftist rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The ceremony proceeded without incident, but a week later thousands of Bolsonaro's die-hard supporters stormed the capital and trashed the top government buildings demanding that Lula's election be overturned.
Bolsonaro is being investigated for whether he had any role in inciting that uprising. It is just one of several probes targeting the former president and that pose a legal headache upon his eventual homecoming, and which could strip him of his eligibility in future races — or worse.
For the first time in his more than three-decade political career as a lawmaker then as president, he no longer enjoys the special legal protection that requires any trial be held at the Supreme Court.
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It has been widely assumed — though not confirmed — that Bolsonaro entered the U.S. on an A-1 visa reserved for sitting heads of state. If so, he would have 30 days from the end of his presidential term to either leave the U.S. or adjust his status with the Department of Homeland Security.
Meantime, the shape of his political future and his potential return to Brazil has been a matter of rumor and speculation.
Bolsonaro's calculus appears to be to distance himself from the radicals whose destruction in the capital could implicate him in the short term, with the aim of some day returning to lead the opposition, said Mario Sérgio Lima, a political analyst at Medley Advisors.
“He is giving it some time, staying away a bit from the country at a moment when he can begin to suffer legal consequences for his supporters’ attitudes,” said Lima. “I don’t think the fact of him staying away is enough. The processes will continue, but maybe he thinks he can at least avoid some sort of revenge punishment.”
Bolsonaro has been staying in a home outside Orlando, Florida, and video has shown him snapping photos with supporters in the gated community and ambling around inside a supermarket.
In the wake of the rampage in the Brazilian capital this month, a group of 46 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden demanding Bolsonaro’s visa be revoked.
“The United States must not provide shelter for him, or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions,” they wrote.
Bolsonaro's son, a senator, told reporters at an event this weekend that he was not sure when his father would return to Brazil.
"It could be tomorrow, it could be in six months, he might never return. I don't know. He's relaxing,” Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro said.
Asked whether Bolsonaro has filed any request for documentation or help with visa processses, Brazil’s foreign ministry referred AP to U.S. authorities. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services referred AP to the State Department, which has repeatedly declined comment to questions about Bolsonaro’s visa status in the U.S.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian magazine on Thursday released audio of a senator claiming then President Jair Bolsonaro sought help in a plot to annul the October elections and keep himself in power.
In the recording, Sen. Marcos do Val tells the magazine Veja that the idea was discussed when he met with Bolsonaro and lawmaker Daniel Silveira on Dec. 9 at the presidential residence, three weeks before leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was set to take office.
Do Val, who was an ally during Bolsonaro’s four-year term, said the far-right leader gave him the “mission” of recording Alexandre de Moraes, a Supreme Court justice who also heads Brazil's electoral authority, while trying to get the judge to admit he overstepped his powers under the constitution.
“'I annul the election, Lula isn't sworn in, I stay in the presidency and arrest Alexandre de Moraes because of his comments,'” do Val quotes Bolsonaro as saying.
Veja released the audio in response to denials the senator issued following the magazine's report Thursday morning about the purported plot, which had not cited him as its source. Do Val told reporters after the magazine published its story that the plot had been Silveira's idea and that the former president hadn't said a word during the meeting.
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Later Thursday, de Moraes ordered the Federal Police to take do Val's sworn testimony within five days. Bolsonaro, who has been keeping a low profile in Florida since Dec. 30, did not comment on the matter on any of his social media channels. He recently applied for a six-month tourist visa to stay in the U.S.
The alleged meeting adds to the growing list of woes for Bolsonaro, who is already under investigation for his possible role in his supporters' uprising in the Brazilian capital on Jan. 8.
Bolsonaro cast doubt on the nation's electronic voting system for months in the lead-up to the election, and he then refused to concede defeat. His die-hard supporters have accused de Moraes of rigging the election in Lula’s favor, without offering any evidence, and of overstepping his authority by blocking social media accounts and ordering allegedly arbitrary arrests and searches.
Suspicions of a coup plot increased after police searching the home of Bolsonaro’s former justice minister found a draft decree that would have seized control of the electoral authority and potentially overturned the election. The origin of the unsigned document is unclear, and it remains unknown if Bolsonaro or his subordinates took any steps to implement the measure.
Do Val told both Veja magazine and journalists later Thursday that he informed de Moraes of what was discussed at the meeting with Bolsonaro and Silveira, and that he declined to participate in the alleged plot.
Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro, the former president’s son, said he was aware of the meeting, which he described as an attempt by Silveira to persuade the other two men to do something “absolutely unacceptable, absurd and illegal.” But discussing such an idea does not constitute a crime, he said.
Silveira was arrested Thursday on de Moraes' order for violating terms of his release from prison. Silveira was previously sentenced for anti-democratic acts after issuing threats against de Moraes and other justices, but was released after Bolsonaro pardoned him. Still, he was prohibited from using his social media accounts and required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet as other investigations targeting him proceed.
Associated Press writer Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.
MIAMI (AP) — Only a few weeks after his supporters stormed the seat of his country's government, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday expressed bafflement at how he could have lost October's election, then smiled silently as a crowd of supporters cried, “Fraud!”
He did not directly address the Jan. 8 assault on the buildings housing Brazil’s Congress and Supreme Court during his appearance in Miami before a conservative group tied to former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Bolsonaro had mimicked Trump’s strategy during his own 2020 reelection campaign, for months sowing doubts about the reliability of Brazil's voting machines and then filing a petition to annul millions of votes. He is now under investigation for allegedly inciting the uprising.
Like Trump, Bolsonaro has not conceded the election, though unlike the former U.S. president he also has never explicitly said he lost due to fraud. During a question-and-answer session with Charlie Kirk, head of the conservative Turning Point USA, the former Brazilian president rattled off his administration's accomplishments and then provided backers with an opening.
“Brazil was doing very well,” Bolsonaro said. “I cannot understand the reasons why (the election) decided to go to the left.”
Ally claims Bolsonaro plotted coup to block Lula presidency
After the cries of “fraud” died down, Kirk, who helped spread Trump's own election fraud lies after the former U.S. president's loss, replied, “All I can say is, that sounds very familiar.”
The event took place at Trump's Miami hotel, underscoring the connection between two populist presidents who fanned suspicion of their democracies' elections, leading supporters to turn violent after their losses. The two were political allies who shared an overlapping set of advisers. Shortly before Bolsonaro's opponent, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, took office, Bolsonaro moved to Florida, the state where Trump has based himself.
Friday's appearance marked part of Bolsonaro's reemergence after spending several weeks in a central Florida suburb. He spoke to some supporters there earlier this week before taking the stage at Trump's hotel late Friday afternoon.
Much of Bolsonaro's Friday speech amounted to a defense of his four years in power, touting job gains, what he said was a lack of corruption in his administration and, in a reference that drew loud cheers, “freedom” for those who opted out of COVID-19 vaccinations.
After his 30-minute appearance, many in the several hundred-strong crowd, often clad in the national colors of yellow and green, swarmed around the 67-year-old former president.
Some of Bolsonaro's backers in Brazil have expressed disappointment that he left the country before Jan. 8 and has remained circumspect about the attack. The former president faces legal jeopardy not only from a mushrooming number of investigations into the Jan. 8 uprising but from the country's supreme court, which has censored websites that have spread what it calls lies about Brazil's election.
Reynaldo Rossi, a Brazilian farmer visiting Florida to explore a possible relocation there, said he is glad Bolsonaro is staying in the U.S. for now.
“If he goes back, they are going to create a lot of trouble for him,” Rossi said. “He would spend a lot of his time down there defending himself instead of leading us.”
In his speech, Bolsonaro acknowledged Brazilians who have left the country for the U.S., seeming to include himself in that category.
“As well as we feel here, we always worry about our friends and family that stayed there,” he said, referring to Brazil.
He also reassured the crowd about the country's future.
“I believe in Brazil, and I am certain that Brazil will not end with the current government,” Bolsonaro said.
Hughes reported from from Rio de Janiero and Riccardi from Denver.
https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-politics-united-states-government-brazil-florida-state-d76610dcae6f4a2490ae596f2136728d Jair Bolsonaro United States government Brazil government Florida state government Miami Donald Trump Brazil FraudBolsonaro ponders election defeat, as crowd chants ‘fraud’By TERRY SPENCER, ELEONORE HUGHES and NICHOLAS RICCARDI18 mins agoMIAMI (AP) — Only a few weeks after his supporters stormed the seat of his country's government, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday expressed bafflement at how he could have lost October's election, then smiled silently as a crowd of supporters cried, “Fraud!”He did not directly address the Jan. 8 assault on the buildings housing Brazil’s Congress and Supreme Court during his appearance in Miami before a conservative group tied to former U.S. President Donald Trump.Bolsonaro had mimicked Trump’s strategy during his own 2020 reelection campaign, for months sowing doubts about the reliability of Brazil's voting machines and then filing a petition to annul millions of votes. He is now under investigation for allegedly inciting the uprising.Like Trump, Bolsonaro has not conceded the election, though unlike the former U.S. president he also has never explicitly said he lost due to fraud. During a question-and-answer session with Charlie Kirk, head of the conservative Turning Point USA, the former Brazilian president rattled off his administration's accomplishments and then provided backers with an opening.“Brazil was doing very well,” Bolsonaro said. “I cannot understand the reasons why (the election) decided to go to the left.”JAIR BOLSONAROAlly claims Bolsonaro plotted coup to block Lula presidencyBrazil authorities probe Amazon ties to capital attacksBrazilian volleyball player suspended over Lula pollBrazil's Lula to visit Biden on Feb. 10After the cries of “fraud” died down, Kirk, who helped spread Trump's own election fraud lies after the former U.S. president's loss, replied, “All I can say is, that sounds very familiar.”The event took place at Trump's Miami hotel, underscoring the connection between two populist presidents who fanned suspicion of their democracies' elections, leading supporters to turn violent after their losses. The two were political allies who shared an overlapping set of advisers. Shortly before Bolsonaro's opponent, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, took office, Bolsonaro moved to Florida, the state where Trump has based himself.Friday's appearance marked part of Bolsonaro's reemergence after spending several weeks in a central Florida suburb. He spoke to some supporters there earlier this week before taking the stage at Trump's hotel late Friday afternoon.Much of Bolsonaro's Friday speech amounted to a defense of his four years in power, touting job gains, what he said was a lack of corruption in his administration and, in a reference that drew loud cheers, “freedom” for those who opted out of COVID-19 vaccinations.After his 30-minute appearance, many in the several hundred-strong crowd, often clad in the national colors of yellow and green, swarmed around the 67-year-old former president.Some of Bolsonaro's backers in Brazil have expressed disappointment that he left the country before Jan. 8 and has remained circumspect about the attack. The former president faces legal jeopardy not only from a mushrooming number of investigations into the Jan. 8 uprising but from the country's supreme court, which has censored websites that have spread what it calls lies about Brazil's election.Reynaldo Rossi, a Brazilian farmer visiting Florida to explore a possible relocation there, said he is glad Bolsonaro is staying in the U.S. for now.“If he goes back, they are going to create a lot of trouble for him,” Rossi said. “He would spend a lot of his time down there defending himself instead of leading us.”In his speech, Bolsonaro acknowledged Brazilians who have left the country for the U.S., seeming to include himself in that category.“As well as we feel here, we always worry about our friends and family that stayed there,” he said, referring to Brazil.He also reassured the crowd about the country's future.“I believe in Brazil, and I am certain that Brazil will not end with the current government,” Bolsonaro said.___Hughes reported from from Rio de Janiero and Riccardi from Denver.
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Former President Jair Bolsonaro said Saturday he intends to return to Brazil “in the following weeks.”
The comment during an event at an evangelical church in Florida was the first time that Bolsonaro has made a statement in public about returning home.
The far-right politician has been in the U.S. since arriving in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 31, the eve of the inauguration of his leftist rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as Brazil's current president.
Saturday's event was held entirely in Portuguese for a Brazilian crowd of Bolsonaro supporters living abroad and was organized by the right-wing organization Yes Brazil USA. Bolsonaro was cheered throughout the event.
There has been speculation during recent weeks on when Bolsonaro might return to Brazil, where is the subject of several investigations into possible wrongdoing.
He initially entered the U.S. on a one-month diplomatic visa, which ended Jan. 31. He was accompanied by a team of presidential advisers and his wife, all of whom left Florida last month.
Lawyers for Bolsonaro told Brazilian media recently that they applied for a tourist visa to extend his stay in the U.S.
Amid the speculation about Bolsonaro's plans, one of his sons, Sen. Flavio Bolsonaro, told Brazilian reporters that he didn’t know when his father would return. “It could be tomorrow, it could be in six months, he might never return. I don’t know. He’s relaxing,” the son said.
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Biden, Lula focus on democracy, climate during visit
Bolsonaro ponders election defeat, as crowd chants ‘fraud’
For the first time in his more than three-decade political career as a lawmaker and then as president, Bolsonaro no longer enjoys the special legal protection that requires any trial be held at the Supreme Court.
Bolsonaro is being investigated in four inquiries, which had been in the Supreme Court and were sent to trial court this past week.
Among the inquiries is whether Bolsonaro had any role in inciting the Jan. 8 riot by his supporters who stormed into government buildings in the capital, Brasilia, demanding his election defeat to Lula be overturned.
Investigators are also looking into who organized and financed the mass gathering of Bolsonaro supporters, who came to the capital from all over Brazil.
One of the investigations held by the Brazilian justice is who are the ones responsible for inciting the crimes, as well as who financed people from all over the country to travel to Brasilia.
The authorities arrested a close aide of former President Jair Bolsonaro on charges that he forged vaccine records, possibly to help Mr. Bolsonaro enter the United States.
By Flávia Milhorance and Ana Ionova
RIO DE JANEIRO — The Brazilian police raided the home of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday and seized his cellphone as part of a sweeping investigation into forged Covid-19 vaccination records that may have allowed him and his top aides to gain entry into the United States.
The authorities searched more than a dozen homes in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, arresting six people, including one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s closest aides and two of his security guards, who are suspected of tampering with a government vaccination database and issuing falsified records.
The forged vaccine cards may have allowed Mr. Bolsonaro and his aides to sidestep U.S. travel restrictions put in place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, investigators said.
False vaccine certificates may have been issued for Mr. Bolsonaro, his 12-year-old daughter, Laura, and other top officials in his administration, according to the Brazilian authorities. The police said the vaccination records were forged between November 2021 and December 2022.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — After four years of rising destruction in Brazil’s Amazon, deforestation dropped by 33.6% during the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s term, according to government satellite data released Thursday.
From January to June the rainforest had alerts for possible deforestation covering 2,650 square kilometers (1,023 square miles), down from 4,000 square kilometers — an area the size of Rhode Island — during the same period last year under former President Jair Bolsonaro. This year's data includes a 41% plunge in alerts for June, which marks the start of the dry season when deforestation tends to jump.
"The effort of reversing the curve of growth has been reached. That is a fact: we reversed the curve; deforestation isn't increasing," João Paulo Capobianco, the Environment Ministry's executive secretary, said during a presentation in Brasilia.
Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro is barred from running for office until 2030
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Bolsonaro political future at risk as trial begins
Brazil's Bolsonaro questioned in fake vaccine card investigation
Capobianco noted that full-year results will depend on a few challenging months ahead. Still, the data is an encouraging sign for Lula, who campaigned last year with pledges to rein in illegal logging and undo the environmental devastation during Bolsonaro’s term. The former far-right leader weakened environmental authorities while his insistence on development of the Amazon region resonated with landgrabbers and farmers who had long felt maligned by environmental laws. They were emboldened, and Amazon deforestation surged to a 15-year high.
Thursday's deforestation data comes from a system called Deter, managed by the National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency. It is an initiative mainly focused on detecting real-time deforestation. The most accurate deforestation calculations come from another system called Prodes, with data released only annually.
“Bottom line, we are prioritizing environmental law enforcement,” Jair Schmitt, head of environmental protection at Ibama, Brazil’s federal environmental agency, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
However, the continued shortage of personnel means the task hasn't been easy, he said. Many Ibama agents retired and weren't replaced during Bolsonaro’s administration, reflecting his effort to defang environmental authorities. Lula has committed to restoring the workforce, but the number of Ibama’s enforcement agents remains at its lowest in 24 years. For the entire country that is bigger than the contiguous U.S., there are just 700 agents, with 150 available for deployment.
Ibama has also strengthened remote surveillance, where deforestation is detected through satellite imagery, according to Schmitt. By cross-referencing with land records, it is possible to identify the owner of the area in many cases, leading to an embargo that restricts access to financial loans and imposes other sanctions.
Another strategy has been to seize thousands of illegally raised cattle within embargoed areas. It is effective because it inflicts immediate punishment, whereas fines are rarely paid in Brazil due to a slow appeals process, Schmitt said.
Rodrigo Agostinho, the head of Ibama, noted in the presentation Thursday that the value of fines imposed in the first half of the year jumped 167% from the 2019-2022 average, and the agency embargoed 2,086 areas — up 111%.
“We started the year with a lot of difficulty because of everything we inherited, reorganizing all the enforcement teams, environmental protection, reactivating tech systems,” said Agostinho.
Improved deforestation data also reflect the change in rhetoric coming from the top, said Schmitt. Whereas Bolsonaro openly criticized Ibama and advocated for the legalization of deforested areas, Lula has said he will rebuild law enforcement and promised to expel invaders from protected areas. Experts say the mere expectation that a land-grabbed area will eventually be regularized has historically been one of deforestation's biggest drivers.
It may be premature to celebrate the reversal in deforestation's trend, however. According to satellite monitoring, there were 3,075 fires in the Amazon in June alone, which marks the beginning of the dry season — the most since 2007. The jump is due to the clearing of areas deforested in the second half of 2022, Schmitt said. In the Amazon, fires are mostly man-made and occur after clear-cutting of the forest.
With El Niño looming, which typically brings less rain and higher temperatures to the Amazon, Ibama has doubled its budget for fighting forest fires and increased the scope of its fire squads by 17% for the most critical period, typically July to October. Approximately half of the 2,117 temporary firefighters are Indigenous peoples.
The Amazon rainforest covers an area twice the size of India and holds tremendous stores of carbon, serving as a crucial buffer against climate change. Two-thirds of it is located in Brazil.
Next month, Lula will preside over a meeting in Belem, bringing together heads-of-state from all Amazonian nations to discuss means to effectively cooperate in the challenging region. Lula has promised to end net deforestation in Brazil's Amazon by 2030. His four-year mandate, his third term, ends two years earlier.
To achieve this, law enforcement alone will not be enough, says Adevaldo Dias, a rubber-tapper leader who presides over the Chico Mendes Memorial, a non-profit organization that assists traditional non-Indigenous communities in the Amazon.
“It is necessary to invest in sustainable productive chains under community management, such as managed pirarucu (arapaima) fishing, Brazil nuts, vegetable oils, and açai,” he told the AP. “This will help revitalize and expand these chains, generating decent income for those engaged in conservation efforts within their territories.”
Ibama's Agostinho also stressed his agency's efforts within Indigenous territories, particularly the land of the Yanomami people where thousands of illegal gold miners — seeking to carve out a living — invaded during Bolsonaro's term.
Their activities contaminated waterways and sickened local people, and Lula's government has spent months expelling most of them. Some remain, however, working at night to avoid being caught, Agostinho said.
“We are very content with the result so far," he said. "We know the fight isn’t over, we will continue doing this work.”
SAO PAULO (AP) — Far-right former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was barred Friday from running for office again until 2030 after a panel of judges concluded that he abused his power and cast unfounded doubts on the country’s electronic voting system.
The decision upends the 68-year-old's political future and likely erases any chance for him to regain power.
Five judges on the nation's highest electoral court agreed that Bolsonaro used government communication channels to promote his campaign and sowed distrust about the vote. Two judges voted against the move.
“This decision will end Bolsonaro’s chances of being president again, and he knows it,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo. “After this, he will try to stay out of jail, elect some of his allies to keep his political capital, but it is very unlikely he will ever return to the presidency.”
In Lula's first six months, Brazil Amazon deforestation dropped 34%, reversing trend under Bolsonaro
The case focused on a July 18, 2022, meeting where Bolsonaro used government staffers, the state television channel and the presidential palace in Brasilia to tell foreign ambassadors that the country’s electronic voting system was rigged.
In her decisive vote that formed a majority, Judge Carmen Lucia — who is also a Supreme Court justice — said "the facts are incontrovertible.”
"The meeting did take place. It was convened by the then-president. Its content is available. It was examined by everyone, and there was never a denial that it did happen,” she said.
Alexandre de Moraes, also a Supreme Court justice, said the decision represents rejection of “populism reborn from the flames of hateful, antidemocratic speech that promotes heinous disinformation.”
Speaking to reporters in Minas Gerais, Bolsonaro lamented that the trial was unfair and politically motivated.
“We’re going to talk with the lawyers. Life goes on,” he said when asked what his next step would be. He called the ruling an attack on Brazilian democracy. “It’s a rather difficult moment.”
Melo said the decision is “very unlikely” to be overturned. It removes Bolsonaro from the 2024 and 2028 municipal elections as well as the 2026 general elections. The former president also faces other legal troubles, including criminal investigations. Future criminal convictions could extend his ban by years and subject him to imprisonment.
Former President Fernando Collor de Mello and current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were declared ineligible in the past, but Bolsonaro’s case marks the first time a president has been suspended for election violations rather than a criminal offense. Brazilian law forbids candidates with criminal sentences from running for office.
Lula’s eligibility was reinstated by Brazil’s top court following rulings that then-judge and now Sen. Sergio Moro was biased when he sentenced the leftist leader to almost 10 years in prison for corruption and money laundering.
Maria Maris, a 58-year-old engineer in Rio de Janeiro, celebrated the ruling, though said she suspects it may have been politically motivated.
“My fear is that Bolsonaro appeals and runs in the next presidential election, even though he was made ineligible today,” Maris said.
Bolsonaro holds a ceremonial leadership role within his Liberal Party and has traveled around Brazil criticizing Lula, who won last October’s election with the narrowest margin in over three decades.
Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed government buildings on Jan. 8 — one week after Lula took power — in an attempt to oust the leftist from power. Swift jailing and prosecution of hundreds of those who participated had a chilling effect on their rejection of the election's results. Federal police are investigating Bolsonaro's role in inciting the uprising; he has denied any wrongdoing.
The chairwoman of Lula's Workers’ Party, Gleisi Hoffmann, said on her social media channels that Bolsonaro's ineligibility offers a teachable moment.
“The far-right needs to know that the political struggle takes place within the democratic process, and not with violence and threatening a coup,” she said. Bolsonaro "will be out of the game because he doesn’t respect the rules. Not only him, his whole gang of coup mongers has to follow the same path.”
The trial has reenergized Bolsonaro’s base online, with supporters claiming he is a victim of an unfair judicial system and comparing his fate to that of former U.S. President Donald Trump, according to Marie Santini, coordinator of NetLab, a research group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro that monitors social media.
However, that engagement pales in comparison to the levels seen ahead of last year’s polarizing election.
The expression of Katia Caminha, a 67 year-old retiree in Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana neighborhood, crumbled upon hearing the news that a majority of judges had voted against Bolsonaro. She told The Associated Press that she thought the whole trial had been a “clown show.”
“Everything that has to do with the electoral court is biased and against" Bolsonaro. "This is terrible news for Brazil,” Caminha said.
This week, his supporters showed their continued support with contributions to help him pay 1.1 million reais (about $230,000) in fines levied by Sao Paulo state's government for Bolsonaro's repeated violations of health protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Bolsonaro aims to be the right's kingmaker, and his endorsement will carry significant heft, his decision to decamp to Florida for several months at the start of Lula's term weakened him, said Thomas Traumann, a political analyst. That is reflected by the limited right-wing outrage on social media throughout the eligibility trial, and no sign of protests.
“There won't be a mass movement, because he diminished in size. The fact that he went to Florida and didn't lead the opposition caused him to diminish in size,” Traumann said. “The leader of the opposition is clearly not Bolsonaro."
As the trial drew to a close, a trumpeter standing outside the electoral court played the song that became a sensation during last year's presidential race: “It is Time for Jair to Go Away.”
Jeantet reported from Rio. Associated Press Writer Carla Bridi contributed to this report.