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Updated Jul 5, 2024, 12:05pm EDT
South America
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Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accused of money laundering

Insights from Associated Press, O Globo, and Americas Quarterly

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Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
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The News

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was indicted for money laundering, embezzlement, and criminal association. He is accused of smuggling jewelry reportedly worth $3 million from Saudi Arabia into Brazil undeclared: Brazilian law requires all goods worth more than $1,000 to be declared and taxed upon entry into the country. The former president has denied the accusation.

Bolsonaro still commands strong support among his political base, despite the various legal charges he’s facing and the fact that he is barred from seeking office in Brazil until 2030 over his role in a 2023 riot over his ouster.

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Bolsonaro faces a ‘dizzying array’ of legal investigations

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Associated Press

Besides the jewelry case, Bolsonaro faces an array of charges that the Associated Press characterized as “dizzying.” The Brazilian police has been investigating him ever since he took office in 2019, and even more charges emerged after his failed attempt at reelection in 2022. He faces accusations of inciting the 2023 uprising against his successor, falsifying his COVID-19 vaccination certificate, and spreading disinformation. He was even accused of harassing a humpback whale, though the investigation was later dropped. Bolsonaro denies all the allegations, and his allies have described the probes as persecutory, the AP added.

Investigation deals a blow to Bolsonaro’s claims of honesty

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O Globo

The embezzlement charge undermines one of the pillars of his reputation among supporters, Brazilian outlet O Globo wrote: that he may have many flaws, but he is honest. “The myth of honesty does not fit with the label of a jewelry thief,” the outlet said. The accusation is one that people will have no difficulty understanding, and may be detrimental to the former president’s support.

Bolsonaro’s political career may be over, despite continued support

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Americas Quarterly, Le Monde

Bolsonarismo lives on,” Americas Quarterly wrote in February, when almost 200,000 people rallied in São Paulo to protest the investigations against him. Many that day appeared hopeful that Bolsonaro would one day be back in charge, Le Monde reported. But the former president sounded subdued at the rally, embodying the role of a “spiritual leader” who appeared ready to hand the reins of his movement to a successor, AQ said, adding that he seemed to believe that his legal woes would prevent him from carrying on with his political career.

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