Brazil‘s far-right presidential candidate has survived life-saving surgery after being stabbed by a ‘socialist’ attacker who said he was acting on ‘a mission from God’ during a rally.
Shocking footage showed the moment election hopeful Jair Bolsonaro was knifed in the stomach in the midst of a crowd in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, south east Brazil.
The 63-year-old has since been transferred to intensive care after undergoing a procedure for serious internal injuries and is now stable and out of ‘acute and immediate danger’.
A 40-year-old suspect, identified by police as Adélio Bispo de Oliveira, has been arrested over the attack with police saying he appeared to be mentally disturbed and had claimed he was ‘on a mission from God’.
Oliveira was said to be a member of the left-leaning PSOL party from 2007 to 2014. On his Facebook page, the attacker recently posted messages criticizing Bolsonaro and supporting the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is taken on the shoulders of a supporter moments before being stabbed during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora, Brazil
Jair Bolsonaro reacts after being stabbed during the rally. Police spokesman Flavio Santiago confirmed that his attacker had been arrested
Bolsonaro is reported to have underwent laparoscopic surgery after being stabbed at a campaign rally according to his advisers
Adelio Bispo de Oliveira (pictured) is suspected of stabbing Jair Boslanaro while he was campaigning in Brazil
This photo released by the Military Police, shows the knife supposedly used by Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, suspected of stabbing Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing Brazilian presidential candidate
The split-second assault happened as the politcian was being carried shoulder high by supporters in the midst of a crowd during the afternoon event.
Horrifying footage from several mobile phones caught the moment a man plunged a knife into his belly.
He was seen clutching his stomach and grimacing in agony before collapsing backwards. He was rushed through the crowds and whisked by car to Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Juiz de Fora hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery.
Bolsonaro’s son, Flavio Bolsonaro, initially posted on Twitter that the injury was superficial and his father was fine. However, an hour later he posted another tweet saying the wound was ‘worse than we thought.’
He arrived at the hospital ‘almost dead,’ Flavio wrote. ‘His condition now seems stabilised. Please pray.’
The attack on Bolsonaro, is a twist in what was already Brazil’s most unpredictable election since the country’s return to democracy three decades ago. Corruption investigations have jailed scores of businessmen and politicians in recent years, and alienated voters.
There was fear of violence flaring across Brazil on Friday, as the nation celebrates Independence Day with political groups likely to march in hundreds of cities. Bolsonaro’s rival candidates called off campaign activities for Friday.
Under Brazil’s campaign laws, Bolsonaro’s tiny coalition has almost no campaign time on government-regulated candidate ad blocs on TV and radio. That means Bolsonaro relies on social media and rallies around the country to drum up support. As such, not being able to go out in the streets could impact his campaign.
Jair Bolsonaro is being carried by the crowd while campaigning in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, south east Brazil
He can suddenly be seen grasping his stomach and wincing in pain and the crowd carries him on
The crowd react and carry the wounded politician to safety. He is currently undergoing critical surgery
Flavio Bolsonaro said early Friday outside the hospital where his father was treated that he was conscious and the attack was a political boost.
‘I just want to send a message to the thugs who tried to ruin the life of a family man, a guy who is the hope for millions of Brazilians: You just elected him president. He will win in the first round,’ said Flavio Bolsonaro.
In a statement Federal Police said: ‘[Bolsonaro] was (being) escorted by federal police when he was struck by a knife during a public act in the city of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. A suspect was arrested in the act and taken to the police station. A police investigation was established to ascertain the circumstances of the incident.’
Speaking to local media, Pedro Augusto Lima Possa, the suspect’s lawyer said: ‘Adelio confessed and claimed responsibility for the attack. But he said he had not intended to kill (Bolsonaro).’
Stabbing could reshape election contest
The stabbing of Jair Bolsonaro has the potential to reshape the election contest after dramatically exposing the deep polarization in Latin America’s largest nation.
Far-right congressman Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has promised to crack down on crime, has long argued that Brazil is in chaos and needs a strong hand to be steadied.
After a knife-wielding man stabbed the candidate in the abdomen during a campaign event Thursday, Brazilians surged on to social media to argue over whether the attack supports Bolsonaro’s assertions that the country is off the rails or whether his heated rhetoric contributed to inciting the attack.
Far-right congressman Bolsonaro (centre, at a rally earlier this week), a former army captain who has promised to crack down on crime, has long argued that Brazil is in chaos and needs a strong hand to be steadied
After more than four years of revelations of widespread corruption within Brazil’s political class, anger is running high in the country, and analysts initially predicted this would be a change election. But no true outsider has emerged.
Instead, Bolsonaro, despite being a congressman since 1991, has harnessed much of the anger and presented himself as a maverick who will clean up a corrupt system. He also promises to confront a surge in crime, in part by giving police a freer hand to shoot and kill while on duty.
The public’s anger is partially responsible for making this year’s campaign the most unpredictable in years for Brazil, and the attack could lead to another seismic shift.
The man leading polls, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been barred from running by electoral authorities because he was convicted of corruption and is in jail.
That puts Bolsonaro in the lead position, though it is unclear how the attack might affect the campaign for the October 7 presidential ballot.
The stabbing of Jair Bolsonaro has the potential to reshape the election contest after dramatically exposing the deep polarization in Latin America’s largest nation. His son Flavio is pictured today outside the hospital treating the firebrand politician
In the hours following the attack in Juiz de Fora, about 125 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro supporters predicted it would carry him to the presidency.
‘They made Bolsonaro a martyr,’ said Jonatan Valente, a student who joined a small vigil for Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo. ‘I think the left shot itself in the foot because with this attack they will end up electing Bolsonaro.’
But it is unknown when he can get out again on the campaign trail and if his injuries will impede his ability to campaign.
There were signs of the deep divide in Brazil at the vigil, when Bolsonaro’s supporters briefly exchanged insults with some detractors who showed up.
Meanwhile, on Twitter many decried the stabbing and asked for prayers for Bolsonaro, but others suggested the candidate might have brought the attack upon himself or even staged it.
Brazilian medical doctor Eunice Dantas, director of the Santa Casa Hospital, speaks to the press about Brazil’s right-wing presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro’s health today
This is not the first time in recent months that violence has touched politicians. In March, while da Silva was on a campaign tour in southern Brazil before his imprisonment, gunshots hit buses in his caravan. No one was hurt. Also that month, Marielle Franco, a black councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro, was shot to death in March along with her driver after attending an event.
While Bolsonaro has a strong following, he is a deeply divisive figure. He has been fined, and even faced charges, for derogatory statements toward women, blacks and gays.
He speaks nostalgically about the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and has promised to fill his government with current and former military leaders. His vice presidential running mate is a retired general.
‘It’s likely that Bolsonaro will use the attack to argue his opponents are desperate, that they had no other way to stop him,’ said Mauricio Santoro, a political science professor at Rio de Janeiro’s state university
The unmarried man, who has a teacher’s degree, is believed to be currently unemployed but has been working as a waiter and is apparently estranged from his family.
According to Possa, the attacked was motivated by religious and political reasons.
‘He told me that there were religious and political motivations and that he hated the prejudice that the Bolsonaro openly spoke about and held against different races, religion and women,’ the suspect’s lawyer said.
Dr Luiz Henrique Borsato, a member of the hospital’s general surgery team who performed the critical operation on the victim said Bolsonaro suffered a ‘blunt abdominal trauma and was admitted to the hospital with signs of shock.’
‘Surgery was performed as a matter of urgency and a massive internal haemorrhage was diagnosed and controlled,’ said Dr Borsato at a press briefing last night.
He explained that the former army captain had suffered injuries to several organs and had lost between 2 to 2.5 litres of blood.
‘The damage was very serious. (He suffered) three perforations to the small intestine and a severe lesion in the large intestine. There was faecal contamination inside the abdominal cavity,’ the surgeon revealed.
‘During surgery the small intestine was connected to a temporary colostomy pouch which was placed on the inner wall of the intestine. It will stop waste matter from passing through the large intestine and prevent the site from being infected,’ he continued.
Michelle Bolsonaro, the wife of the National Social Liberal Party presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, arrives at the Santa Casa hospital where her husband is hospitalised
Jair Bolsonaro’s son Flavio Bolsonaro is pictured outside Santa Casa hospital today
People light candles in support of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, of the National Social Liberal Party
A man covers his face with his hands as he stands outside the hospital where Bolsonaro is being treated
Initially the politician’s son, Flavio, said the injury was superficial, but ultrasound and CT scans showed trauma in the organs and bleeding from the superior mesenteric artery, a major blood vessel in the digestive system.
Borsato dismissed earlier reports of injuries to the candidate’s liver.
‘There was bleeding from an abdominal artery and perforations in the large and small intestines. The injured part of the large intestine was removed, and the small intestine was sewn up,’ said Borsato.
‘The internal injuries were serious, and the patient’s life was at risk. At the start of the surgery his condition was unstable, but we were able to bring it under control and stabilise him.’
The team confirmed that Bolsonaro arrived at the unit wearing a ‘yellow shirt’ and was not wearing a protective vest.
According to reports, Bolsonaro would normally wear body protection provided by federal police for his safety. However, on this occasion he was without the vest.
The politician is expected to be hospitalised for at least l0 days and will undergo another operation in a couple months’ time to remove the internal colostomy bag.
‘It’s too early to say if he will have long term problems,’ Borsato said.
A group of people try to detain Adelio Bispo de Oliveira (pictured centre), who allegedly stabbed the right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro campaigns in the district of Ceilandia in Brasilia, yesterday
Bolsonaro, a former army captain, is running on a tough law and order platform advocating looser gun controls
He is a polarising figure in an unpredictable election campaign but rising violent crime, anger over repeated corruption scandals and an effective social media campaign have helped him gain support.
He was second in the polls to former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who was the front-runner in the country’s elections until he was struck from the ballot.
At the end of last month, electoral court ruled that the Brazil’s embattled ex-president, who is in prison on corruption charges and who served two terms between 2003 to 2011, would not be able to stand for election again.
Bolsonaro is known for insulting women, openly expressing racist and homophobic views, championing dictatorship, calling for political opponents to be shot and for holding derogatory views of indigenous people and foreigners. This has earned him the title of ‘the most misogynistic, hateful elected official in the democratic world’.
The ex-military office, who has been called the ‘tropical Trump’ of South America, has been a serving politician in the Chamber of Deputies since 1991.
Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is a polarizing figure and has been fined, and even faced charges, for derogatory statements towards women and black people
Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (pictured left) gestures at the crowd during a campaign rally in the district of Ceilandia in Brasilia, on September 5, 2018
The attack Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, pictured at a campaign rally, comes at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric related to campaigns