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Why has Jair Bolsonaro applied for a US tourist visa? What is he being investigated for in Brazil?

The former president of Brazil has been in the US since December while being investigated for his role in unrest during the handover of power.

Why has Jair Bolsonaro applied for a US tourist visa? What is he being investigated for in Brazil?
Anadolu AgencyGetty

Jair Bolsonaro, former president of Brazil, is attempting to extend his stay in the US after seeming to flee the south American country at the end of last year. Immigration officials received Bolsonaro’s request for a B1/B2 tourism visa last Friday, said his lawyer, Felipe Alexandre.

He has been staying in Florida, dining with Donald Trump as well as shopping in local stores to the bemusement of social media.

Democratic lawmakers had already requested that President Biden cancel Bolsonaro’s current diplomatic visa. This was acquired while he was still head of state of Brazil just days before the inauguration of his successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, but it’s coming under scrutiny for Bolsonaro’s potential role in a mass riot earlier this month which saw thousands arrested.

“We request that you reassess his status in the country to ascertain whether there is a legal basis for his stay and revoke any such diplomatic visa he may hold,” said the letter. “The United States must not provide shelter for him, or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions.”

What is he being investigated for in Brazil?

On 8 January, thousands of Bolsonaro supports raided federal buildings in the capital, Brasilia. They claimed the election result in Brazil was fraudulent, demanding military intervention to overturn the vote. Bolsonaro has made no secret for his admiration of the military dictatorship which controlled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. He himself was a captain during that period.

A number of former Bolsonaro allies were arrested in the aftermath of the riots, including minister of justice Anderson Torres. More than 1,200 people have been charged in total.

Bolsonaro “bears no responsibility” for the riots, Alexandre told the Financial Times on Monday.