https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/06/brazil-first-lady-shaken-condition-presidential-palace-bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro wrecked Brazil’s presidential palace, TV report suggests

Journalist touring residence with new first lady is shown torn sofas, broken windows and art damaged by the sun

Jair Bolsonaro’s wrecking of the Amazon made him a global outcast – but his acts of desecration were not limited to the rainforest.

A report by the Brazilian broadcaster GloboNews suggests that even the official presidential residence – a 1950s masterpiece by the architect Oscar Niemeyer – was defiled by the far-right politician during his four years in power.

One of the network’s leading political correspondents, Natuza Nery, took a tour of the Palácio da Alvorada (Palace of Dawn) on Thursday with Brazil’s new first lady, Rosângela Lula da Silva, and was unimpressed with what she saw.

“The overall state of the building, which is Brasília’s most iconic … is not good … and will require many repairs,” reported Nery, who was shown torn carpets and sofas, leaky ceilings, broken windows and jacaranda floorboards, and works of art damaged by the sun.

Photographs of the rundown palace more resembled images of dilapidated student accommodation than a listed building designed by one of the world’s most celebrated modernist architects.

A tapestry by Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, one of Brazil’s most celebrated 20th-century artists, had been damaged after being moved from the library and hung in the sun. “Unfortunately, it will have to be restored,” the first lady said.

Nery said several works of art had disappeared altogether from the palace, which was completed in 1958, two years before Brazil’s purpose-built capital was inaugurated by the then president, Juscelino Kubitschek.

The first lady, who is widely known as Janja, said she had felt “rather disappointed” and “shaken” by the state of disrepair of her new home. A Brazilian cactus planted by her husband, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, during his 2003-10 presidency had reportedly been removed. Bolsonaro left a disposable ballpoint pen – one of the symbols of his populist administration – on one of the palace’s desks.

Bolsonaro, who abandoned Brasília on the eve of Lula’s swearing-in last Sunday, looks unlikely to return soon. He is in Florida, and reportedly fears prosecution for alleged crimes including his anti-scientific response to a Covid pandemic that killed nearly 700,000 people in his country.

A report in the Brazilian magazine Istoé this week claimed the former president was pressuring the Italian government to grant his family citizenship and hoped to move there after a stint in the US to avoid jail. Bolsonaro reportedly believed Brazilian authorities would be unable to extradite him from the European country, from where his great-grandfather Vittorio Bolzonaro emigrated in the late 19th century.

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