Orlando, Florida, Jan 9 (EFE).- Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro is under observation at a hospital near this city in Central Florida after experiencing abdominal discomfort, his wife said Monday on her Instagram account.
Michelle Bolsonaro said the pain was related to the injuries her husband suffered when he was stabbed during a 2018 political rally.
However, an operator at AdventHealth Celebration Hospital – where unofficial sources said the ex-head of state had been admitted – told Efe that he was not undergoing treatment at that facility.
The hospital employee also refused to respond when asked whether Bolsonaro had been admitted there in recent hours and already been discharged.
Outside that hospital, Efe did not observe an unusually heavy security presence nor any people showing their support for the former president.
However, reporters from local television networks and international news agencies had arrived at the hospital, and a news helicopter was flying over the building.
A source close to the 67-year-old ex-head of state, meanwhile, told Efe from Brazil that Bolsonaro is hospitalized in Orlando and undergoing tests related to abdominal pain but did not specify the name of the facility.
This latest news about Bolsonaro comes a day after his supporters stormed the seats of power in Brazil’s capital with the goal of ousting newly inaugurated President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010, narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in a late October runoff election; despite claims of fraud by the incumbent and his supporters, Brazil’s electoral court certified the leftist’s victory on Dec. 12.
Bolsonaro, who did not attend Lula’s Jan. 1 inauguration for a third term, had traveled two days earlier (while still president) to the United States and moved into the Orlando home of Jose Aldo, a retired mixed martial arts fighter who is a friend and admirer of the rightist politician.
Nossagente.net, a portal that is a news source for Orlando’s sizable Brazilian community, has been notably mum about the ex-president’s reported hospitalization even though it has published information concerning his life as an ordinary citizen in that Florida city.
Bolsonaro released a statement Sunday on social media offering lukewarm criticism of the riots in Brasilia.
“Peaceful demonstrations, within the law, are part of democracy. However, vandalism and the invasion of public buildings like today’s acts, and like those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, are exceptions to the rule,” the statement read.
The retired army captain also repudiated the “baseless” allegations of Lula, who on Sunday accused Bolsonaro of inciting thousands of his most ardent supporters to storm the Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace and occupy those building for several hours.
Security forces in Brazil’s capital have since detained 1,500 people in connection with those attacks.
The US government, which is being urged by Democratic lawmakers to remove Bolsonaro from the country, said Monday it is prepared to help Brazil with investigations related to Sunday’s rioting but thus far has received no such request.
“As we always are, we are standing by for any 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,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press conference.
Price was asked whether Bolsonaro had entered the US with a special visa that is granted to heads of state and is only valid while they are in office, but the spokesman said that information is confidential. EFE