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Bolsonaro under investigation by leftist government of Brazil, not allowed to leave country

By Mandy Donalds
February 29, 2024

Jair Bolsonaro, the former president of Brazil, is facing an investigation for allegedly disturbing a whale.

The recent controversy involving Bolsonaro revolves around his encounter with a humpback whale while on a personal watercraft. This incident, which occurred off the coast of Sao Paulo last year, has led to an investigation by federal authorities. Bolsonaro, known for his far-right political stances, has been embroiled in numerous legal challenges since his departure from office, including allegations of plotting a coup and issues related to election integrity, as reported by the Associated Press.

Bolsonaro's legal troubles extend beyond the coast

Bolsonaro was accompanied on visit to the federal police in Sao Paulo by a lawyer and a former adviser, both of whom were present during the incident with the whale.

This event adds to the growing list of legal concerns for Bolsonaro, who has been banned from running for public office until 2030 and is under investigation for various other alleged offenses.

Among the accusations, Bolsonaro is scrutinized for actions that could be perceived as an attempt to undermine the democratic process. These include the alleged plotting of a coup to overthrow his successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which has drawn significant attention from both national and international observers.

Close encounter with marine life leads to scrutiny

A video that emerged on social media in June 2023 has been pivotal in bringing the current case to light.

It appears to show a man, believed to be Bolsonaro, navigating his watercraft perilously close to a whale. This action contravenes Brazilian laws that are designed to protect marine life by maintaining a safe distance between watercraft and cetaceans.

Prosecutors have noted that the individual on the watercraft, likely Bolsonaro, was significantly closer to the whale than the law permits. This has raised concerns about the potential harm to the whale and the disregard for environmental regulations.

The political implications of Bolsonaro's actions

For Bolsonaro's supporters, the ongoing legal challenges are seen as a form of political persecution. They argue that the cases against him are motivated more by political bias than by concerns for justice or the environment. This sentiment has been a common theme among Bolsonaro's base, who remain loyal despite the controversies.

Last week's questioning of Bolsonaro in Brasilia, related to the alleged coup plot, underscores the breadth of legal issues he faces. The seizure of his passport in a previous operation has further complicated his situation, restricting his ability to travel internationally.

Supreme Court documents have revealed plans that were in place, allegedly by Bolsonaro and his team, to challenge the 2022 election results. These documents suggest a decree was prepared to declare the election fraudulent, a move that has been widely criticized.

The broader context of Bolsonaro's legal entanglements

Bolsonaro's ineligibility to run for office, decided by a panel of judges, is based on accusations of abuse of power and spreading unfounded doubts about Brazil's electronic voting system. This decision is part of a series of legal challenges that have tarnished Bolsonaro's political career.

In addition to the whale incident, Bolsonaro has been questioned regarding other cases, including the alleged smuggling of expensive jewelry and the sale of luxury watches he received as gifts. These cases highlight the diverse nature of the legal issues Bolsonaro is facing.

The investigation into the nation's intelligence agency, concerning possible spying on political opponents during Bolsonaro's term, adds another layer to the complex web of legal challenges he must navigate.

Legal outcomes and public perception

Despite the array of accusations, Bolsonaro maintains his innocence.

The case involving the humpback whale, while minor compared to others, could still result in a fine if it is proven that Bolsonaro intentionally approached the animal.

A precedent for such a case exists, where a local politician faced a fine for a similar offense. This suggests that while the legal consequences for the whale incident may not be severe, they contribute to the overall pressure Bolsonaro faces from multiple legal fronts.


  • Bolsonaro is under investigation for an incident involving a humpback whale off Sao Paulo's coast.
  • He faces multiple legal challenges, including allegations of plotting a coup and undermining the electoral process.
  • Brazilian laws protect marine life by setting boundaries for watercraft, which Bolsonaro allegedly violated.
  • His supporters view the legal actions as political persecution, while his critics see them as necessary for upholding the law.
  • The outcome of the whale incident, although minor, could result in a fine and adds to Bolsonaro's legal woes.