Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro will return to Brazil on March 30, his party confirmed via social media yesterday, following more than three months of self-imposed exile in the United States after losing his re-election bid.
His return to Brazil is eagerly awaited by his conservative Liberal Party (PL), which became the largest in the Brazilian Congress after the election last October.
“Our national president, Valdemar Costa Neto, confirms to everyone that Jair Bolsonaro will return to Brazil on March 30. Bolsonaro will disembark in Brasilia at 7.30am,” the Liberal Party said on social media.
Bolsonaro travelled to the United States on December 30, just two days before the inauguration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, skipping the traditional ritual of passing the presidential sash to his successor.
Costa Neto has said he expects Bolsonaro to become the leader of the right-wing opposition to leftist President Lula and lead his party into municipal elections next year, where the PL hopes to triple the number of its mayors across Brazil.
Bolsonaro was losing his political capital by staying in self-imposed exile in Florida and should come back to lead the 58mn Brazilians who voted for him in an election narrowly won by Lula, Costa Neto had suggested.
An effective opposition could lay the ground for a right-wing comeback in the 2026 presidential election, PL officials have told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s entourage said that the former president had handed over to authorities, through his lawyers, some expensive jewels given to him by the government of Saudi Arabia.
The 68-year-old far-right leader has been embroiled in a scandal over the issue and is accused of having brought the jewels into Brazil illegally.
“I will resume a normal life, I will work for the PL, travel around Brazil and take part in politics,” Bolsonaro said in an interview with TV Record broadcast on Thursday.
Bolsonaro denies wrongdoing but has been accused of illegally trying to bring gifts into the country.
The scandal erupted when newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo reported that customs officers intercepted an aide to Bolsonaro’s then-mines and energy minister trying to enter Brazil with a backpack containing diamond jewellery from Swiss luxury firm Chopard after an official trip to Saudi Arabia in October 2021.
It later emerged Bolsonaro had kept a second set of jewels, also from Chopard, that entered Brazil undetected after the same trip.
Travelers entering Brazil with goods worth over $1,000 are required to declare them and pay hefty import taxes.
Media reports have placed the value of the jewels, some of which were believed to be a gift for the former president’s wife, at $3.2mn for the first set, and at least $75,000 for the second.
“I found out about this story a year later and my wife found out about it through the press,” Bolsonaro told TV Record. “She has nothing to do with this, the box that was for her is with customs.”
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