BRASÍLIA: Three months after leaving for the United States in the final hours of his term, Brazil’s ex-president Jair Bolsonaro returned home Thursday to reenter politics — complicating life for his successor and nemesis, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The far-right ex-army captain, who skipped town two days before Lula’s inauguration on January 1, arrived back in Brasilia on a commercial flight from Orlando, Florida, then headed to the headquarters of his Liberal Party (PL), flashing a thumbs-up as his motorcade pulled away.
After warnings from authorities that they would not allow a large rally for security and transport reasons, Bolsonaro made a discreet exit from the airport, without approaching the exuberant, tightly guarded crowd of around 200 flag-waving supporters gathered to greet him.
The homecoming is a high-stakes bet for Bolsonaro, 68, who faces legal trouble on various fronts in Brazil — notably for his alleged role in inciting supporters who invaded the halls of power on January 8 in a failed bid to oust Lula, the veteran leftist who beat him in a divisive election in October.
Bolsonaro is set to start a new job next week as honorary president of the Liberal Party, earning 41,600 reais (around $8,000) a month.
The former president (2019-2022), who recently rented a house in a gated community in Brasilia, has said he plans to criss cross Brazil “doing politics” and “upholding the banner of conservatism.”