Brazil: Conservative Candidate’s Would-Be Assassin a Longtime Socialist ‘Ordered by God’ to Kill

Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, identificado como autor do atentado com faca ao candidato à presidência Jair Bolsonaro (Polícia Militar/Divulgação)
Polícia Militar/Divulgação

Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, the man identified as having stabbed Brazilian presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro during a campaign rally Thursday, told police that he was “commanded by God” to kill the legislator and spent almost a decade registered as a member of the nation’s Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL).

Bispo de Oliveira’s assassination attempt was caught on video in southeastern Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro was attending a campaign rally and being carried by a supportive crowd when the candidate can suddenly be seen wincing in pain and grabbing his torso. Bolsonaro is currently in a hospital in Sao Paulo recovering and has issued a statement thanking medical staff and expressing optimism for a swift recovery.

Polls released this week found Bolsonaro continuing to hold a lead with 22 percent of the vote. Brazilians are scheduled to vote during the first round of presidential elections on October 7.

The Brazilian magazine Veja first revealed Bispo de Oliveira’s party affiliation, matching publicly available voter registration records with his national identification number. According to Veja, Bispo de Oliveira was a member of the PSOL from 2007 to 2014 and has not been a member of any political party since. The party did not refute the report, instead emphasizing that the man’s prior status as a member did not transfer his violent intentions to the entire party.

“The fact that Adelio Bispo de Oliveiro was affiliated to the PSOL between 2007 and 2014 does not alter the party’s position in relation to the unacceptable attack Jair Bolsonaro suffered,” the president of the PSOL, Juliano Medeiros, said in a statement. “The PSOL rejected in a prior statement the escalation of violence that has marked the political scene in the last few years and expressed its rejection of the attack [on Bolsonaro].”

The PSOL had previously stated that the attack on Bolsonaro was “a serious attack on our democratic norms and the election process.”

Bispo de Oliveira has reportedly not told police that he was acting in the name of any political party or cause, but instead told investigators that “God in Heaven ordered me to do it.” He added that he was not working in coordination with anyone else, and police have not stated that they have any reason to believe Bispo de Oliveira is part of a terrorist cell or conspiracy against Bolsonaro.

Several Latin American and international outlets have shared information posted on a Facebook account believed to belong to Bispo de Oliveira, including outlets like the BBC. The BBC noted that Bispo de Oliveira appears in photos on the Facebook account attending protests against corruption in general, standing alongside individuals holding a sign reading “useless politicians” and another reading “resign Temer,” referring to current interim President Michel Temer. Much of the Facebook feed attributed to him was dedicated to insulting Bolsonaro, who the author of the page says “disgusts me just to hear him talk.” Some Bolsonaro supporters have also accused Bispo de Oliveira of being a supporter of leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, currently serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. Despite this, hypothetical polls have found that Lula would defeat Bolsonaro if allowed to run in next month’s election.

The BBC also found some evidence of violent tendencies on the Facebook page they shared, including a comment that urged putting “the leaders of Brazil against the wall,” a reference to firing squads. Other outlets in Latin America have highlighted multiple conspiracy theory posts about Masonry and September 11, as well as positive comments about Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, of whom the Facebook account reportedly said, “now that is what being a communist is about.”

Bolsonaro is currently recovering after surgery on Thursday and has sent positive messages to his supporters and Brazilians generally from the hospital. In a video surrounded by sons and fellow lawmakers Eduardo and Flavio Bolsonaro, the candidate asks the public for prayers for a swift recovery and appears to pray with his family.

“At the moment, God wanted it this way,” Bolsonaro said in a statement. “He prepared me for a moment like this because there are risks … I never harmed anybody.”

Bolsonaro also appeared on video thanking the medical team aiding him, in remarks that the Brazilian newspaper O Globo noted appeared difficult for him to make due to his stab wound.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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