Bolsonaro’s stay in America, however, has come under increased scrutiny after thousands of his supporters in Brazil’s capitol Brasilia stormed government buildings, denying the results of the recent Brazilian election — a situation with obvious parallels to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Pro-Bolsonaro supporters broke into the country’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices, smashing windows and climbing on roofs. Officers deployed tear gas on demonstrators and at least 1,000 have been detained.
The White House and State Department haven’t commented in detail on Bolsonaro’s status in the U.S., though some Democrats, including Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), said on Sunday that he should be kicked out the country.
Despite the massive unrest from Bolsonaro supporters in Brazil, Vieira, who moved to the U.S. from Brazil eight years ago because she said it wasn’t safe, still wanted to meet the former leader. She waited more than an hour for Bolsonaro to emerge from the house, hoping to give him some Coxinha, a Brazilian chicken croquette she brought in a tupperware. As time passed, she handed out the baked goods to other supporters on the sidewalk.
Earlier in the day, Bolsonaro’s wife Michelle posted on Instagram that her husband was at a local hospital under observation due to abdominal discomfort. It remained unclear Monday night whether Bolsonaro was still in the hospital, but the well-wishers gathered near the house he was staying believed he was discharged and in the home.
Paloma Aredes traveled with her family to Orlando from Massachusetts and had stopped by the house with her family as the sun was setting to see if Bolsonaro would come outside.
Aredes, who works in a restaurant in Massachusetts, was in Orlando to visit Disney and Universal but also wanted to see the former president, whose politics she agreed with.
Her favorite thing about Bolsonaro was his sincerity with all people, she said. Yet like the others, she didn’t get a chance to meet Bolsonaro in person or even catch a glimpse of him.
Before protestors stormed government buildings in Brazil, sightings of Bolsonaro in Florida were posted on social media and treated with a mix of mockery and befuddlement. There were photos of Bolsonaro eating in a KFC, and a video circulated showing him walking around a Publix grocery store.
Wellington Souza, a 36-year-old owner of a pool service in Orlando, had been outside of the home for over two hours. He said he supports Bolsonaro because believes his policies and leadership were good for Brazil. Souza said he believed something was wrong with the integrity of the recent election, raising concerns of electronic voting machines but had few specifics.
“I don’t know exactly what happened but something was weird,” Souza said, adding that he denounced violent protests.