Jair Bolsonaro stabbing: knife attack plunges Brazil’s election into disarray

Rightwing frontrunner Bolsonaro recovering in hospital from what son says was 12cm wound and could take weeks to recover


The most acrimonious and unpredictable presidential election campaign in Brazil’s recent history has plummeted into fresh turmoil after a leading candidate was stabbed while campaigning.

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right lawmaker and retired army officer, was recovering from surgery in a hospital in So Paulo on Friday morning after he was transferred from the town of Juiz de Fora, where he was stabbed during a campaign event the previous afternoon.

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The suspect was arrested within moments of the attack, and told police that he was on a mission from God.

Doctors said Bolsonaro will spend at least a week in hospital and could take weeks to recover from life-threatening injuries.

Meanwhile his main rival, former president Luiz Incio Lula da Silva, is campaigning from behind bars, even though he has been barred from running because of a criminal conviction for corruption.

The election’s first round is to take place on 7 October.

We have gone into a very insecure environment, said Carlos Melo, a professor of political science at So Paulo business school Insper. If the country was already mired in dismay, it just got worse.

Amid record levels of violence and a string of corruption scandals which have ensnared scores of politicians, Bolsonaros hard line on crime, his attacks on the left and his praise for Brazils brutal 1964-85 military dictatorship have chimed with conservative voters.

Tapping into concerns over violence, Bolsonaro has called for looser gun laws, impunity for police who kill criminals and chemical castration for rapists.

But his extremist views and aggressive speeches frighten many Brazilians, and he faces trial before the supreme court for speech that prosecutors said incited hate and rape.

In a video recorded from his hospital bed and released on Friday, Bolsonaro thanked medical staff and described the attack. All of us have a mission here on earth, he said. I prepared myself for a moment like this, because you run risks.

Speaking with difficulty, Bolsonaro lamented missing Fridays Independence Day parade in Rio and quoted his campaign slogan: Brazil above everything and God above everyone.


Who is Jair Bolsonaro?

chemical castration


Born in Glicro in So Paulo in 1955 to parents of Italian descent, he served in the army from 1971 until 1988, when he was elected as a city councillor in Rio de Janeiro for the Christian Democratic party. In 1990, he became a federal congressman for the same party. He has since been affiliated with a number of political parties. On 22 July, he was officially nominated as the presidential candidate of the Social Liberal party.


Bolsonaro espouses populist and nationalist views that often stray into far-right territory. A vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, abortion, immigration and other progressive causes, he has defended the death penalty and the 1964-85 military dictatorship. On foreign policy, he has said he wants to improve relations with the US. Economically he says he is pro free market and privatisation.

Political style

Deliberately provocative and polarising. He has praised Gen Pinochet, expressed support for torturers and called for political opponents to be shot, earning himthelabelof “the most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world. In his bid to capitalise on Latin Americas lurch to the right, he paints himself as a tropical Donald Trump: a pro-gun, anti-establishment crusader set on “draining the swamp” and cracking down on violent crime.


On top of repeated calls for a return to dictatorship, he has made equally inflammatory attacks onwomen,black people,gay people, foreigners and indigenous communities. Earlier this year,he was charged by the attorney general with inciting hate speech.

Support and election prospects

Bolsonaro has a devout following among some conservative voters, who admire his promises to get tough on rampant violent crime, and he is likely to progress to the second round of the vote.

Photograph: Evaristo Sa/AFP

Bolsonaro is currently polling second to Lula. But the former president is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering and Brazils electoral court has ruled he cannot stand.

Lula is still appealing but his vice-presidential candidate Fernando Haddad, the former mayor of So Paulo, is expected to replace him imminently.

Bolsonaro gives the thunbs-up from hospital. Photograph: @flaviobolsonaro/Twitter

In polling scenarios where Lula is excluded for the first round of voting, Bolsonaro leads though an IPOBE poll this week showed him losing to three other candidates in a run-off vote and level with Haddad.

His stabbing could increase his support, said Paulo Baa, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

The attack strengthens Bolsonaro and practically guarantees him a place in the second round, Baa said.

Captured on cellphone videos, the attack could hardly have been more dramatic.

Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned My party is Brazil, Bolsonaro was being carried on the shoulders of a supporter amid a crowd of followers when a man lunged from the crowd and stabbed him in the stomach. His son Eduardo, a federal deputy, said the knife wound was 12cm deep.

By Thursday night, another son, Flavio, a candidate for Senate, was already proclaiming victory. A message to these bandits who tried to ruin the life of a guy who is a father, who is the hope of all Brazilians: you just elected the president, he told reporters outside the hospital.

Bolsonaro’s supporters said the attack served to underline how dangerous Brazil has become. If such violence falls on a presidential candidate, imagine what threats the ordinary citizen faces, said Maj Sergio Olimpio Gomes, a police officer and lawmaker in Bolsonaros tiny Social Liberal party.

Retired army general Augusto Heleno, a close ally of Bolsonaro, said he would not be able to continue his intense campaigning rhythm. He has to recover. The consequences were serious, Heleno said.

A prolonged stay in hospital would spare Bolsonaro from television debates where he has struggled under difficult questioning, and would allow him to control his message via cellphone videos and social media posts to his 5 million Facebook followers.

And while Bolsonaros adversaries across the political spectrum condemned the stabbing, they will be forced to reign in criticism of Bolsonaro. How can you oppose Jair Bolsonaro on a day like this? said Melo.

Police have named the suspect as Adelio Bispo de Oliveira. The small Socialism and Freedom party (PSOL) said he was a former member.

Attacks against national-level, high-profile candidates are rare in Brazil but there are signs this is changing.

In March, Marielle Franco, a Rio de Janeiro city councillor from the same PSOL party, was murdered along with her driver, Anderson Gomes, and two buses in a campaign caravan for former president Lula were hit by gunshots. Lula was not with the convoy at the time.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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