Bolsonaro Leaves Brazil After Farewell Address

Outgoing president won't attend successor's inauguration Sunday
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2022 12:15 PM CST
Bolsonaro Leaves Brazil After Farewell Address
After supporters of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro ended their vigil Friday outside the official presidential residence, Alvorada Palace, supporters of President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived, posing for photos flashing the "L" finger gesture for Lula.   (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

President Jair Bolsonaro tearfully delivered an unyielding farewell address to Brazil on Friday before flying to the US, avoiding taking part in the transfer of power to his successor on Sunday. "Nothing is lost," he told supporters in a speech streamed on social media. "Brazil is a fantastic country, and Brazil doesn't end on January first." He then boarded an air force plane for the flight to Orlando, where his security team was waiting, and landed late in the day, Reuters reports. Bolsonaro had said he would not present the presidential sash to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated him in the election, breaking an inauguration tradition designed to demonstrate Brazil's commitment to democracy. The vice president is now acting president.

Leaving the country also could help insulate Bolsonaro from potential legal liability; his presidential immunity ends when Lula assumes the office. Although he has not conceded the October election, Bolsonaro denounced the violence that followed, much of it by his supporters who say they want to prevent the change of power, per the Washington Post. He singled out an attempt to bomb an airport in Brasilia, calling it a terrorist act. "Nothing justifies it," Bolsonaro said in his speech, per CNN. At the same time, he praised protesters camped at army barracks who are urging a military coup while disavowing responsibility. "I did not encourage anyone to enter confrontation," he said, adding that they were seeking freedom, per Reuters.

There also are fears about violence around Lula's inauguration. Bolsonaro's departure from the country disappointed many supporters, and he tried to explain it in his speech. He had attempted to erode faith in electronic voting machines for years, and many of his supporters have argued the election was stolen, though they've provided no evidence, per the Post. Bolsonaro said he could not raise support for overturning the vote in the electoral court, the congress, or the armed forces. A lawsuit claiming voting fraud was turned down. “Unfortunately we are adrift," a supporter wrote on social media. "So there was no fraud??? Hope is over." Bolsonaro said he will lead the opposition to his successor. (More Brazil stories.)

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