Bolsonaro welcomed by backers at 1st public event since returning to Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Apr 30 (EFE).- Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was welcomed on Sunday by a large crowd at the Ribeirao Preto airport for his first large public event since he returned to Brazil after spending three months in the United States after leaving office.

Hundreds of supporters of the ultrarightist leader applauded him at the airport in the city in the interior of Sao Paulo state and an equally large number of people accompanied him in a caravan of vehicles and motorcycles on his trip in a pickup truck from the airport to a nearby ranch where he will be staying.

The event had the feeling of an election campaign rally, and Bolsonaro’s supporters – who had gathered at the airport several hours before the leader of the Liberal Party (PL) arrived in the early afternoon – shouted slogans against Brazil’s current president, progressive Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“Lula, you thief, your place is in prison,” they cried, referring to the Workers Party (PT) leader’s convictions for corruption, which were later overturned, although not until he had served 580 days behind bars.

Bolsonaro’s followers, many of whom refuse to recognize Lula’s victory in last October’s presidential election, also shouted conservative slogans defending “family, property and tradition.”

The ultrarightist former president came to Ribeirao Preto so that on Monday he can attend the International Agricultural Technology Fair (Agroshow), to which he was invited by rural producers’ organizations, one of the sectors that benefited most under his 2019-2022 administration.

This is the first time that Bolsonaro has left Brasilia to participate in a public event since he returned to the country exactly 30 days ago after spending three months in the US, where he traveled a day before the end of his mandate.

Since March 30, the ultrarightist leader has only attended a single event at the headquarters of the Liberal Party where he was proclaimed the head of the opposition to Lula, as well as two sessions where the Federal Police questioned him within the framework of the ongoing court proceedings against him.

The first of those interviews concerned his alleged attempt to keep some valuable jewels gifted to him by Saudi Arabia and the second one his alleged encouragement of pro-coup d’etat acts leading up to and including the Jan. 8 assault on the three government branches where thousands of his supporters invaded the headquarters of the executive branch, Congress and the Supreme Court in an attempt to spark a coup against the newly-inaugurated Lula.

Bolsonaro comes to Ribeirao Preto amid the swirling controversy over the decision by agriculture fair organizers to invite him to the event’s opening ceremony while simultaneously withdrawing their invitation to Lula’s agriculture minister, Carlos Favaro.

The controversy sparked by the rural producers’ preference for Bolsonaro obligated Agroshow organizers to cancel the opening ceremony and the Banco do Brasil to withdraw its sponsorship of the event.

The ultrarightist leader was welcomed to Ribeirao Preto by numerous legislators and some of his former Cabinet ministers, including Ricardo Salles, Mario Frias and Marcos Pontes, who on the social networks had urged Bolsonaro’s followers to give him a huge welcome to the city.

EFE –/bp

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