Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on Saturday attended his first public event since losing reelection almost four weeks ago, making a speechless appearance at a military graduation ceremony.
The outgoing far-right president attended the ceremony in Resende, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southeast of his residence in Brazil’s capital, where he has been holed up since losing the October 30 runoff to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Apart from a terse statement to the press saying he would respect the constitution, Bolsonaro has not explicitly conceded defeat or congratulated Lula, who is due to be sworn in on January 1.
Dressed in a dark suit and showing little emotion, Bolsonaro, a former military captain, stood during the ceremony flanked by Vice President Hamilton Mourao and Defense Minister Paulo Sergio Nogueira, both of whom are generals.
“Let me open these brief words by thanking President Bolsonaro for his presence, which lends much luster to this event,” said Army Commander Marco Antonio Freire to the nearly 400 officer candidates and others in attendance.
The leader of Latin America’s largest economy last week skipped the G20 meeting in Bali, and has left his vice president to fill traditional roles such as accepting new ambassadors’ credentials.
His official agenda has been nearly empty, aside from short, sporadic meetings — almost all at his official residence, not the presidential offices.
His beloved social media accounts have also been uncharacteristically silent for almost a month.
Advisors and allies have given various explanations for his absences, from an alleged “sadness” over his defeat at the polls to erysipelas, a bacterial skin infection that reportedly affects one of his legs.
In several cities, Bolsonaro’s supporters continue to protest in front of military barracks, asking for the army to intervene and prevent Lula from taking office.
According to local media, Bolsonaro on Saturday greeted several of those protesters outside the military academy in Resende.
To avoid handing over the presidential sash to Lula, as tradition dictates, Bolsonaro is believed by some to be planning to travel abroad on inauguration day.