False: Brazilian police stopped Jair Bolsonaro's son from leaving the country after the ex-president tried to overturn the democratic elections.

By: Ishita Goel
January 10 2023

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False: Brazilian police stopped Jair Bolsonaro's son from leaving the country after the ex-president tried to overturn the democratic elections.


The Verdict False

No reports show that Flavio Bolsonaro attempted to flee Brazil after the riots. A 2011 video of police stopping smugglers has been misrepresented.

Claim ID 3a60b465


On January 1, 2023, leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as Brazil's president, taking over from Jair Bolsonaro. Lula, who stepped in as the country's president for the third time, beat right-wing Bolsonaro by a narrow margin in the October 2022 election. Despite the integrity of the election being certified by Brazil's electoral court and the military, Bolsonaro's loss has led to his supporters holding protests and terming the election "fraud." Despite Bolsonaro having agreed to a peaceful handover of power, a week after Lula's swearing-in ceremony, on January 8, 2023, Bolsonaro's supporters stormed the country's Congress, the presidential palace, and the Supreme Court in Brasilia, bringing months of tension to a peak. Police have arrested over 300 people in the incident.

On January 9, hours after the incident in Brasilia, a 35-second clip was shared on Twitter which showed two men in a car driving toward a plane and then crashing into the wing. One of the men, carrying a gun, emerges from the car and runs toward the stationary plane. The video is being shared with the claim that it shows Brazilian Police stopping Bolsonaro's son Flavio, a senator for Rio de Janeiro, from fleeing the country by crashing into his plane. The caption further claimed that the police action was in response to the former president's role in attempting to overturn the country's democratic election.

However, this is an old video, and there is no connection between Flávio, the recent protests in Brazil, and the incident captured on camera.

In Fact

Using a reverse image search, we found the same video in a BBC News report from November 3, 2011, headlined "Brazilian police ram plane in smugglers chase." The report said the plane was being used to smuggle stolen electronic goods and cocaine from Paraguay, Bolivia, and Colombia for distribution in Brazil.

CNN also used the same clip in a video news report published on November 4, 2011, and credited the footage to the Federal Police of Brazil. According to the report, the Brazilian police had been tracking a group of smugglers for nearly a month before they received a tip about the group landing the plane in a specific spot. The incident reportedly occurred outside of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and five people were arrested. Therefore, it is clear that this clip does not show police attempting to stop Flavio from fleeing the country.

Flavio was reportedly present at a meeting of the Senate convened on Monday, January 9, in light of the violence. According to several reports by local media outlets, he defended his father at the meeting and said that the former president had not incited the riots. Therefore, he was clearly in the country as of January 9.

Further, no reports show Flavio fled or attempted to flee Brazil after the violence. According to a report by Reuters from January 10, 2023, two of Bolsonaro's sons, Flavio and Edoardo, had requested Italian citizenship in 2020, as confirmed by Italy's Foreign Ministry. However, their request is still being processed.

The Verdict 

An old video from 2011 of the Brazilian police chasing and stopping a group of smugglers has been misrepresented as being Bolsonaro's son Flavio fleeing the country. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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