Was the Sunday violence in Brasilia plotted in Florida?
Washington/Brasilia: Following January 8, 2023, rioting and vandalism against the State institutions in Brasilia by the supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is admitted to a hospital in Florida with intestinal discomfort, the United States said it was ready to “respond swiftly and as appropriate to any requests from the Brazilian Government”.
Responding to a question on whether the US would consider extraditing Bolsanoro to Brazil, the US State Department said “We have not yet received any such requests.” It added: “As we always are, we are standing by for any request – requests for assistance from our Brazilian partners, from Brazilian authorities, whether those come through diplomatic channels, whether they come through law enforcement channels, and we will of course respond to those requests as appropriate.”
Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (popularly known as Lula), who took office on January 1 this year after a bitterly divisive election win over Bolsonaro, said after what happened in Brasilia that he believed that Bolsonaro bore at least some responsibility based on his past comments.
The violence in Brasilia was quelled within hours. The institutions were cleared of violent protesters within hours. Brazilian security forces cleared protest camps and arrested 1,500 people. A range of Brazilian voices from across the political spectrum condemned it. President Lula also addressed the nation.
Lula has called for an investigation in Brazil. The USA while condemning the violence, stated that “Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support”. It though added that while both nations are “close partners” and often work on matters law enforcement, “In this case, we have not yet received any requests for information or for action.”
On the speculations that the plotting of the violence in Brasilia could have taken place in the United States in Florida, Washington said this will be a question for the Brazilian investigation. “If it would be useful for Brazilian investigators to be in receipt of information from the United States Government, we would of course adjudicate those requests promptly, as we always do, and provide them with appropriate information. But we haven’t received such a request.”
At least four American legislators have asked the US federal government to not allow the presence of Bolsonaro in the country. However, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “we haven’t received any specific requests just yet”.
Bolsanoro’s visa, too, has become a contentious issue since he carries the diplomatic A-1 visa assigned to foreign diplomats and foreign heads of State. “Leaving individuals aside and generally speaking, if someone entered the United States on an A visa, which is essentially a diplomatic visa for foreign diplomats or heads of state, an A visa holder – if an A visa holder is no longer engaged in official business on behalf of their government, it is incumbent on that visa holder to depart the U.S. or to request a change to another immigration status within 30 days. That request for a change in visa status would be made to the Department of Homeland Security. So it would be incumbent on the visa holder to take that action, either to depart the United States or to request that change in status,” Price said.
Generally speaking, an A visa is reserved for someone who is engaged in official business in the United States on behalf of their government.