Marcelo de Arruda was killed at his own 50th birthday party on Sunday morning when a Bolsonaro supporter invaded the event and shot him three times. Arruda, a municipal guard who had organised a Lula-themed party, returned fire before his death, leaving his assailant in a serious condition in hospital.
The attack came just two days after another Bolsonaro supporter threw a crude home-made device containing faeces into the crowd at a Lula campaign rally in Rio de Janeiro. In another incident in Minas Gerais state three weeks previously, a drone dropped what was reported to be raw sewage on a pro-Lula gathering.
The attacks are in keeping with a polarisation in Brazilian politics that gathered speed in 2016 with the impeachment of Lula’s hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff, and the jailing of Lula two years later for crimes of corruption – convictions that were quashed in 2019 after the prosecutors were found to have colluded with the judge.
What has changed since then, according to experts, is the growing sense, especially from the right, that political differences cannot be resolved through debate.
“This far-right group, a lot of whom, including the president, have fascist ideas, doesn’t want to recognise institutions and the established rules of the game,” said Darci Frigo, president of Brazil’s National Human Rights Council. “Bolsonaro has made a decision to eliminate the left and he has allowed his supporters to use violence to do that, to divide and hate.
“What happened in Foz de Iguaçu is not an isolated case, it was encouraged by the president’s rhetoric.”