Brazil Opposition Party Official Shot Dead at Birthday Celebration – A federal prison guard assassinated a member of the leftist opposition party in Brazil on Saturday while shouting support for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro. The guard had interrupted the official’s birthday celebration.
A witness and state civil police claim that Marcelo Arruda, a PT official and municipal guard, was killed by the suspect Jorge Jose da Rocha Guaranho as he was attending a private party in the southern city of Foz de Iguacu, Parana.
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The Workers’ Party said in a statement that Arruda, who was also reportedly armed, opened fire in return, killing Guaranho. According to the PT’s national president, Gleisi Hoffmann, “another dear comrade passed away this morning, a victim of intolerance, hatred, and political violence.”
When Guaranho first arrived, he was singing Bolsonaro’s praises and waving a gun around while hurling insults at party guests. According to party guests and eyewitness Aluizio Palmar, a Brazilian journalist, he then departed, but came back about 15 to 20 minutes later and aimed a gun directly at Arruda.
Guaranho was ordered to stop after Arruda identified himself as a member of the security forces. According to the PT statement, police, and security footage, both individuals fired their guns, hitting one another, and killing each other.
The two shootings occur months before Brazil’s October presidential election. The violence is a symptom of the growing political polarization between the two major political parties in the country.
The PT’s candidate, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is presently ahead of Bolsonaro, who is seeking reelection, in the polls. Bolsonaro has made it seem feasible that he may refuse to concede any electoral defeat.
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He has previously brought up baseless allegations of election fraud and problems with Brazil’s electronic voting system. In a statement posted on Twitter after the incident on Saturday, Bolsonaro declared that he rejects “support from those who practice violence against opponents.”