Brazilian candidate in serious condition after stabbing

He is expected to remain in intensive care for at least a week.


Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is taken on the shoulders of a supporter moments before being stabbed during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora (Antonio Scorza/Agencia O Globo via AP)
Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is taken on the shoulders of a supporter moments before being stabbed during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora (Antonio Scorza/Agencia O Globo via AP)

A leading presidential candidate in Brazil has been stabbed at a campaign event, suffering serious abdominal injuries.

Dr Luiz Henrique Borsato, who performed emergency surgery, said on Thursday night that right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro was in serious but stable condition and would remain in intensive care for at least seven days.

The first round of Brazil’s presidential election is October 7.

The doctor said the two-hour procedure stopped serious internal bleeding and repaired most of the damage from the knifing.

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National Social Liberal Party presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (Eraldo Peres/AP)

The candidate will need further surgery within months for a part of his intestines that was temporarily fixed with a colostomy, the surgeon said.

“We can’t say when he will be able to leave hospital,” Dr Borsato said. “But in the first hours after the surgery his recovery has been very satisfactory.”

Numerous videos on social media showed Mr Bolsonaro, who has promised to crack down on crime in Latin America’s largest nation, being stabbed with a knife to the lower part of his stomach while campaigning in Juiz de Fora, a city about 125 miles north of Rio de Janeiro.

At the moment of the attack, Mr Bolsonaro was on the shoulders of a supporter, looking out at the crowd and giving a thumbs up with his left hand.

After the attack, he is seen flinching and then goes out of view. Other videos show supporters carrying him to a car and hitting a man who was apparently the suspect.

Police spokesman Flavio Santiago confirmed to The Associated Press that 40-year-old Adelio Bispo de Oliveira had been arrested in connection with the incident.

Mr 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.”

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He arrived at the hospital “almost dead,” Mr Flavio wrote. “His condition now seems stabilized. Please pray.”

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(Twitter screengrab)

A statement from federal police said the candidate had bodyguards. In the videos, Mr Bolsonaro does not appear to be wearing a protective vest. Such measures are rare for candidates in Brazil.

“This episode is sad,” President Michel Temer told reporters in Brasilia. “We won’t have a rule of law if we have intolerance.”

Mr Bolsonaro, a former army captain, is second in the polls to jailed ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been barred from running but continues to appeal.

Despite being a congressman since 1991, Mr Bolsonaro is running as an outsider ready to upend the establishment by cracking down on corruption in politics and reducing crime, in part by giving police a freer hand to shoot and kill while on duty.

While Mr Bolsonaro has a strong following, he is also a deeply polarising figure. He speaks nostalgically about the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and has promised to fill his government with current and former military leaders.

Earlier this week, Mr Bolsonaro said during a campaign event that he would like to shoot corrupt members of the leftist Workers’ Party, which made da Silva its candidate.

The comment prompted an immediate rebuke from the attorney general, who asked Mr Bolsonaro to explain that comment.

His vice presidential running mate, Hamilton Mourao, is a retired general who blamed leftists for the knife attack.

Other presidential candidates quickly denounced the stabbing and many of them decided to suspend their campaign events on Friday.

“Politics is done through dialogue and by convincing, never with hate,” tweeted Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of Sao Paulo who has focused negative ads on Mr Bolsonaro.

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(Twitter screengrab)

Fernando Haddad, who is expected to take da Silva’s place on the Workers’ Party ticket, called the attack “absurd and regrettable”.

It was not immediately clear how the attack on Mr Bolsonaro might reshape a presidential race very much up in the air with the front-runner, da Silva, in jail.

A handful of Bolsonaro supporters held a vigil in Sao Paulo on Thursday night, and briefly exchanged insults with leftists.

“They made Bolsonaro a martyr,’ said Jonatan Valente, a student. “I think the left shot itself in the foot because with this attack they will end up electing Bolsonaro’.”

Press Association

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