Published 01/09/2023 19:15 | Edited 01/09/2023 19:16
American deputies intend to meet this week to discuss a request for the deportation of former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL), who is in Florida and is already considered persona non grata in the country. Much of the Democratic Party bench supports the idea of removing the former coup-president from the United States so that he can be investigated and eventually tried for his role in attacks against democracy in Brazil. Bolsonaro’s presence in the country, in this way, became a huge embarrassment for US President Joe Biden.
Two congressmen have publicly called for Bolsonaro to be deported – Joaquín Castro, who represents the Democratic minority on the Western Hemisphere Committee, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC). To CNN Castro stated that “the US should not be a refuge for the authoritarian who inspired domestic terrorism in Brazil”. Alexandria, on Twitter, said: “The US needs to stop sheltering Bolsonaro”.
Democrat Raúl Grijalva also spoke out in support of the idea of deportation. He also stated that extradition would also be an option, should the Brazilian government make a request. “Brazil has a democracy that deserves to be defended, and we are ready to help.”
Bolsonaro left Brazil on December 30th, before the end of his term, even though he closely followed the coup effervescence in camps in front of Army barracks. Breaking a democratic tradition, he decided not to pass the sash to Lula and settled in the Orlando region, in the southeastern United States.
Deportation and extradition
The idea of the American congressmen is to ask the White House to start the process. “Bolsonaro needs to be removed from the US so that he can face the consequences in Brazil of having instigated attacks on democracy in Brazil, similar to what former President Donald Trump did in the US and which culminated in [na invasão] in the Capitol,” said Grijalva, in an interview with Folha de S. Paulo. “Brazilians and the country’s democracy have the right to judge Bolsonaro’s responsibility.”
The biggest recent attack on American democracy was classified by many as an attempted coup d’état and became the target of a series of investigations, by the Department of Justice, the FBI and Congress itself. The attack resulted in the death of five people, including a policeman.
According to Grijalva, a decision by the White House and the Department of Domestic Security is enough, a body that, for the democrat, decides “to deport countless people every day, including Brazilians asking for refuge with legitimate reasons for doing so, but who are trapped at the border with Mexico”.
The extradition process depends on the request by the Brazilian Judiciary and then forwarded by the federal government to the American — who may or may not accept it. Extradition can only happen if there is a specific agreement between the two countries involved, which is the case of Brazil and the USA, and depends on reciprocity of penalties.
Deportation, in turn, is a faster mechanism and depends exclusively on the will of the State in which the former president is now located. If he used his diplomatic passport to enter the US, the former president would have 72 hours to leave the country. This measure could generate diplomatic attrition for Washington.
For Bolsonaro to be deported, it only takes the local government not to want him in the territory, because the government has decided that he is a nuisance to the US. This is the opinion of UFBA law professor and attorney Vladimir Aras. On social networks, he says that the procedure is the same as that adopted by Brazil and can occur even if the person has a valid visa. It is not known if he is a tourist or if he went on a political visa.
“Deportation, expulsion and similar acts are migration measures at the discretion of the State. Any alien can be deported. Even a foreign representative can be declared ‘persona non grata’ and asked to leave. Bolsonaro is an ordinary citizen.”
US State Department spokesman Ned Price himself confirmed what can happen to someone like Bolsonaro. “If an individual has no basis for being in the United States, he is subject to deportation by the Department of Homeland Security,” was the succinct response to a press inquiry on the matter.
“The former president of Brazil should not have the luxury of vacationing in the US, taking pictures of Florida and pretending he is not involved in attacks on democracy. He needs to be held accountable,” he said. “We must do with him what the Trump administration has always done with migrants – remove him from the country.”
The Democrat claims that this would be an opportunity for President Joe Biden to prove that his defense of democracy is consistent. The American president will hold the second edition of the Summit for Democracy, in the USA, at the end of March. “What happened on January 6, 2021 in the US is being exported, and Brazil is the most glaring example; Biden should send the message that we are committed to upholding democracy not just in our country.”
For the congressman, the links between the two insurrections are undeniable – they share the same narrative of a stolen election and foment political and cultural resentments, as well as lies that “created what we saw this Sunday in Brasília and what we saw on January 6 two years ago”.
chances of arrest
Second column by Malu Gaspar, in The globe, close allies of Bolsonaro fear the arrest of the former president in the wake of terrorist acts in Praça dos Três Poderes. They estimate that even Bolsonaro’s popular base should move away from supporting him, since he traveled, while those camped faced bad weather in front of barracks.
In the political calculation of faithful allies, says Malu, the more vulnerable Bolsonaro is and the less popular support he gathers, the greater the chances of him becoming an “easy prey” for the Judiciary and ending up in jail.
“Now the reading shared by allies of the former president and ministers of higher courts is that Bolsonaro’s situation has become extremely delicate. ‘I think that, in the medium term, he will not escape’, said a magistrate who followed the acts perplexed”, says an excerpt from the column.
According to the columnist, the allies and magistrates are betting that the terrorist acts will undermine the former president’s political capital, already worn out in recent months, after omission while extremists were camped in front of Armed Forces barracks. “If Bolsonaro turns into an ostrich and pretends that none of this is happening to him, he will have problems”, says an interlocutor of the former president.
The biggest fear is with the investigations coming from the STF, in the hands of Minister Alexandre de Moraes, under the investigation of fake news and digital militias.
It was within the scope of these two investigations that the Advocacy-General of the Union (AGU), commanded by Jorge Messias, asked Moraes to arrest all those involved in the invasion of federal public buildings, including the former secretary of public security for the DF Anderson Towers. The breach of telephone secrecy of those involved in the riot can lead to unexpected discoveries.