BRAZIL: Authorities reported on Friday that a supporter of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fatally stabbed a supporter of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist, in the latest sign of escalating political tensions before the upcoming election.
There was violence in the west-central state of Mato Grosso after tempers flared during a dispute over voting for the two candidates. In an election rife with intense polarization, Bolsonaro is trailing Lula in the polls.
According to the incident’s police report, 24-year-old Rafael Silva de Oliveira stabbed 42-year-old Benedito Cardoso dos Santos to death. The suspect was brought to the police station, where he was charged after confessing.
At a Friday press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Lula addressed the stabbing, saying there was a “climate of hatred in the electoral process that is completely abnormal.”
Lula added that police should look into whether such incidents “had been ordered, or guided, or if it was a political strategy.” He did not offer any proof to support his assertion that the attacks were planned.
According to Juanita Goebertus Estrada, the director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas, the killing of Cardoso dos Santos should be vigorously condemned by all candidates.
She also stated that, “Brazilians deserve peaceful elections and should be able to engage in political discussions without fear of violence or retaliation for their views.”
An inquiry for comment from the president’s office did not immediately receive a response.
A similar incident happened in July when a federal prison guard shot dead a local official from Lula’s Workers’ Party while yelling support for Bolsonaro.
A Bolsonaro supporter who suffered a head wound on Friday claimed he had been attacked by Workers Party supporters while they were waiting for Lula to show up at an evangelical gathering in the Rio de Janeiro state city of Sao Goncalo.
Invoking unfounded allegations of election fraud and issues with Brazil’s widely regarded electronic voting system, Bolsonaro, who has long railed against Lula and his leftist allies, has floated the idea of not accepting any election loss.