Bolsonaro's Odd Florida Exile: KFC, Selfies, Lots of Fans

Former Brazil leader is staying in a vacation home in Orlando suburb near Disney World
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2023 11:05 AM CST
Near Disney World, Brazil's Bolsonaro Is a Big Attraction
Security officers leave after speaking with a Brazilian security guard outside the home where former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has been staying in Reunion, Florida.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

It's a strange juxtaposition in regard to Brazil: In the capital, police have restored order after arresting more than 1,000 rioting supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro. In Florida, meanwhile, Bolsonaro himself is leading an unusual new life of "fast-food runs and selfies," as the Washington Post puts it. Bolsonaro came to Florida after losing a presidential election he's claimed was rigged. The Orlando Sentinel reports he's staying at the vacation home of Jose Aldo, a retired UFC fighter, in Kissimmee, just a few miles from Disney World. The New York Times suggests he plans to stay one to three months as he waits to see whether he might be charged with crimes back home.

In the meantime, Bolsonaro has become a celebrity of sorts in the Orlando area. Supporters are usually seen congregating outside his residence hoping he might come out to greet them. Videos have surfaced of him doing just that, as well as eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken and walking in a supermarket. "My kids, they didn't want to see Mickey Mouse, they wanted to see Bolsonaro," Brazilian dentist Leandro Neiva tells the Post. "He is just like us. He could be at Mar-a-Lago with (Donald) Trump, but he is here in Orlando, and everybody knows he is here."

The Post notes that Brazilian expats in Florida tend to be big supporters of Bolsonaro, and a Politico story agrees that he seems to be a bigger draw than Disney World at the moment for Brazilians. "This guy is super brave," it quotes another ex-pat, Alessandra Vieira, as saying. "He is [a] super simple person and he is a true guy." The White House has been largely silent on the status of Bolsonaro's stay in America. However, given the seriousness of the weekend riots, and their similarity to the Capitol riot in the US, Democrats including Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas are calling on President Biden to kick him out. "He's a dangerous man," Castro told CNN, per the Post. (Read more Jair Bolsonaro stories.)

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