Local leader joins call to remove former Brazilian president from Central Florida

Jair Bolsonaro has been staying in Osceola County

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Orlando-area lawmakers are calling for the expulsion of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro from the United States after he was released Monday from an Osceola County hospital.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D) told News 6 that Bolsonaro needs to leave the U.S. and take accountability for the ongoing tension in Brazil.

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“I think we need to be clear that Bolsonaro is not a only dictator and a far-right facist individual, but he’s in Florida partially to avoid four criminal investigations that he’s currently being sought for,” she said.

As many across the country call on President Joe Biden to remove Bolonsaro from the country, Eskamani said she has been urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to take action to remove the former Brazilian president.

In a tweet, saying in part, “Why are are you giving refuge to Jair Bolonsaro in Florida? Is it because you support far-right fascist regimes storming capitols?!”

“It does not make sense that Bolonsaro is here in Florida avoiding criminal investigations, allowing disinformation to be spread in Brazil and around the world,” she said, “This is why I want DeSantis to help urge the White House (to have Bolsonaro removed).”

Congressman Darren Soto spoke to News 6 about the possible motive why Bolsonaro left his country where he faces criminal and electoral investigations that could lead to his arrest.

“Certainly, he wanted to separate himself from perhaps what he felt would be a violent response, but he went to a country with extradition laws. If you’re going to try to escape prosecution going to the United States is not a venue to do that,” said Soto, who represents District 9 in Osceola County where the former leader has been staying since Dec. 30.

“This is mostly an immigration and foreign diplomatic matter, so it is predominantly President Biden and the State Department – certainly we’ve been in touch with them on that and respect the decision they make,” Soto said. “My message is the same for supporters and opposition alike, which is that we’ll follow the law and make sure we abide by the visa and immigration in this country and we’ll respect official extradition request only.”

On Monday, the State Department said if a diplomatic visa holder is no longer involved in official business, it is up to the visa holder to leave the U.S. or request a new type of visa.

“I suppose that they could revoke his diplomatic visa, the State Department is reviewing that, but we shouldn’t be politicizing this. This really needs to be decided by Brazilians; it’s a matter of their democracy,” Soto said. “It’s estimated that Bolsonaro is here on a diplomatic visa, he is no longer a government official, so he’ll have 30 days from the day he arrived to apply for another visa, perhaps a tourism visa or return to Brazil.”

Devotees in recent days have traveled to the home where Bolsonaro is staying for a chance to see and get a picture with him.

Supporters of the former Brazilian president who refuse to accept his election defeat stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential palace on Sunday, a week after the inauguration of his leftist rival, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Biden told reporters that the riots in Brazil were “outrageous.” His national security adviser Jake Sullivan went a step further on Twitter and said the U.S. “condemns any effort to undermine democracy in Brazil.”

The U.S. State Department said so far Brazil has no plans to ask the U.S. for Bolsonaro to be extradited.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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About the Authors:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!

Penny De La Cruz started working at WKMG-TV in September 2021. Before joining News 6, Penny worked at KSAT 12 in San Antonio, Texas.