KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Vanessa Viana was brimming with emotion Tuesday as she flipped through a photo album of her son and family as she sat across the street from former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

His hope was to show them to Bolsonaro, who recently left office and is blamed for sparking violent protests in Brazil with his insistence that the presidential election was rigged.

Viana, 45, said she hoped the former president would sign a photo of her son as a baby.

“It’s like a dream,” the Orlando resident said of Bolsonaro’s presence in Florida.

The far-right former president had been hospitalized at a private facility in Celebration, Florida, but returned to a home in the resort community Tuesday night after a short stay.

Brazilian-American Vanessa Viana holds a photo of her son as a baby in front of the house where former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is staying in Florida.
Brazilian American Vanessa Viana holds a photo of her son as a baby outside the home where former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is staying in Florida.Suzanne Gamboa/NBC News

Whether out in public, Bolsonaro has focused attention on a global political divide in an area that is home to «The Happiest Place on Earth,» as nearby Disney World is often called.

It has also become part of the itinerary for those who travel to Disney.

Julia Sosa, 29, stopped by the house where Bolsonaro has been staying before heading to the Magic Kingdom. Her husband pushed her son in a stroller and both parents wore bright yellow T-shirts with green trim, the colors of the Brazilian flag often worn by Bolsonaro supporters, and a small emblem of Brazil.

«I think [the election] it was stolen because it is very dear. Here you can see that nobody curses him as a genocide, nobody curses him as a thief, because it is not like that. He is the best president of Brazil,” said Sosa, who was on vacation in Brazil.

Julia Sosa, 29, a Brazilian vacationing in Florida, supports Bolsonaro.
Julia Sosa, 29, a Brazilian vacationing in Florida, supports Bolsonaro.Suzanne Gamboa/NBC News

Bolsonaro’s presence in the US has triggered requests for his extradition and conviction by President Joe Biden.

But in this part of Central Florida, there is great sympathy for Bolsonaro and anger for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office on January 1, said Arthur Ticianeli, 25, a waiter at Eskina, a Brazilian restaurant in Kissimmee.

Critics have blamed Bolsonaro for fomenting a January 6-like attack in the Brazilian capital by claiming the election was rigged months before the election. Lula has cracked down on violence, and police estimate that he has detained some 1,500 people in connection with the insurrection.

Bolsonaro’s son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, denied on Tuesday that the former president was responsible for the unrest.

«Since the result of the elections, he has been silent, licking his wounds, practically incommunicado,» he told a session in the Brazilian Senate.

Herbert DaRocha, 64, said he came to the United States 28 years ago after his family was kidnapped in Brazil. The owner of a supermarket with Brazilian products, he also expected to see Bolsonaro. He called Lula a liar, someone he fears.

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in his hospital bed in Kissimmee, Florida, on January 9, 2023.
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in his hospital bed in Kissimmee, Florida, on Monday.@jairbolsonaro via Twitter via AFP – Getty Images

«He is against the family, against rights, against families. He is satanic. That man has a pact with the devil. Do you understand? So that’s why we don’t like Lula, because he wants to bring communism to Brazil,» Da Rocha said.

A man who only gave his name as Neto because he feared reprisals against his family in Brazil, alleged that his vote had been stolen. He said he looked up the equivalent of his Social Security number in Brazil and discovered that it had been used.

He drove three and a half hours from Fort Lauderdale to try to take a selfie with Bolsonaro. She said that no one supports violent riots at government buildings in Brazil or damage to buildings.

But he blamed left-wing infiltrators for fueling the protests and causing the damage. Similar comments were made after the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol by some far-right conservatives who blamed «antifa,» a conspiracy theory that has been debunked.

Neto said the January 6 attacks had nothing to do with what happened in Brazil. The January 6 attacks, he said, are wrong. “I’m a Republican, but you don’t damage property, that’s the property of the American people,” he said.

Bolsonaro’s supporters said his critics are forgetting that Lula had been jailed for corruption scandals. He was jailed on a 2018 corruption and money laundering conviction, but the convictions were later overturned by the Brazilian Supreme Court.

Arthur Ticianeli, a waiter at the Eskina restaurant in Kissimmee, is a supporter of former President Bolsonaro.
Arthur Ticianeli, a waiter at the Eskina restaurant in Kissimmee, is a Bolsonaro supporter.Suzanne Gamboa/NBC News

“President Lula is a bandit. He was in jail. … He spent a lot of time there,” Ticianeli said. “For a person who has been in jail to become president again? Everyone knows that this is very bad for the country.”

Ticianeli also said that the violence in Sunday’s attacks in the capital was perpetrated by Lula supporters.

In the tourist community on Tuesday, journalists sometimes outnumbered Bolsonaro’s tourists. Security guards sat in the driveway of the two-story house, which, like all the other houses in the community, is a gray Craftsman-style house. The community has a small park and gazebo within it and a tennis court, as well as security.

Resort security officers speak to journalists gathered outside the house where former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has stayed on January 10, 2023, in Kissimmee, Florida.
Security officers at the resort speak to reporters Tuesday outside the house where former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has stayed.Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Florida is home to the largest number of Brazilians in the country with 1 in 5 living in the state in 2021, the latest year for which Census estimates are available, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

That year, 751,000 Brazilian immigrants or US-born people of Brazilian descent lived in the US. Of that number, 163,000 lived in Florida, according to the Pew Research Center.

Around noon on Tuesday, Viana had to move on, without seeing Bolsonaro.

«Bolsonaro believed in God,» he said. «This is the best we had in Brazil.»

Suzanne Gamboa reported from Kissimmee, Florida, and Isabela Espadas Barros Leal reported from New York.