A striking video which surfaced just today shows Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro being stabbed in the stomach as he is carried through the street by supporters at a rally.
The incident occurred at a campaign stop in in Minas Gerais, in southeastern Brazil. It was reported that Bolsonaro was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time, and he was quickly escorted away by security guards. The campaign stated that the wound was “superficial.”
Bolsonaro, a former army officer who served during Brazil’s military dictatorship (which he much admires), is a right-wing populist campaigning on anti-corruption and traditional values who has attracted considerable domestic and international attention. He supports allowing Brazilians to own guns in response to a persistently high violent crime rate, and has floated Duterte-style methods to deal with the nation’s extreme drug problem. Bolsonaro is also known for making controversial statements, such as praising the Chilean anti-communist dictator Augusto Pinochet, and that he would rather his son die in an accident than be gay.
His strongest support comes from the growing minority of Brazilian Evangelicals, and most of his base is under the age of 34. Persistent and shocking levels of corruption have also made Brazilians deeply suspicious not just of their politicians but of the very institution of democracy. Bolsonaro paints himself as an outsider warring against the rotting establishment, and has often made statements highly critical of democracy and supporting of authoritarianism.
Despite, or in many cases because of, his frank language combined with his clean political record, Bolsonaro has been rising in the polls. He is currently the frontrunner with 22%. However, if disgraced leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, currently in prison due to corruption, were allowed to stand, he would lead with 39%. In addition, polls show Bolsonaro losing in a run-off to most other candidates.
Still, reaching the presidency may not be impossible for the man who eagerly accepts the styling of “Trump of the Tropics,” and who recently added Trump’s own former chief strategist, the populist godfather Steve Bannon, to his team as an advisor. It remains to be seen how news of the assassination attempt will play into his chances.
Bolsonaro is expected to leave the hospital tomorrow.