Report. The murder is a consequence and sad example of the social polarization and institutionalization of a discourse of political intolerance characteristic of the government of Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters

Political violence arrives in Brazil with murder of local PT leader

“Here we are Bolsonaro!” shouted federal police officer Jorge José da Rocha Guaranho minutes before he shot and killed municipal guard and Workers’ Party (PT) treasurer Marcelo Aloizio de Arruda with three gunshots. The murder occurred at the victim’s birthday party. He was celebrating his 50th birthday with red balloons, posters and flags in support of Lula and the PT in the city of Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná state. The crime was called by the city’s public security secretary, Marcos Antonio Jahnke, “a case of political intolerance.”

Marcelo had been a PT candidate for deputy mayor of the city in 2020, was director of the Union of Municipal Civil Servants and local treasurer of the PT. His birthday celebration was being held at the Associação Esportiva Saúde Física Itaipu, of which Guaranho is one of the directors. According to witnesses and security camera footage, Guaranho first appeared around 11 p.m. He was in a car, accompanied by a woman and a child. Gun in hand, he threatened those present, shouting that he would come back and kill “all you bastards.” At that moment, Arruda reached for his own weapon, according to a witness, and put it on his waist. Twenty minutes later, Guaranho returned, alone, and started shooting from his car.

Arruda identified himself as a municipal guard, showing his badge and with the gun in his hand, but it was no use. The first shot fired by Guaranho hit the treasurer in the leg and the others hit him in the back. Before he died, Arruda managed to turn around and fire five times at the Bolsonaro supporter. According to a friend of the PT member, “with his reaction, he managed to avoid a massacre.” The Paraná Public Security Secretariat reported on Sunday afternoon that Jorge Guaranho received medical treatment and is in serious but stable condition. Arruda died in the hospital a few hours later, leaving behind a wife and four children.

For many sectors of Brazilian society, the murder is a consequence and sad example of the social polarization and institutionalization of a discourse of political intolerance characteristic of the government of Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters. On his Twitter profile, Guaranho presents himself as “conservative and Christian” and shows his support for the president in several posts. In one photo, the policeman makes Bolsonaro’s famous gesture, imitating the shape of a gun with his hands.

A few hours before the assassination, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PI-SP), the president’s son, delivered an inflammatory speech in Brasilia in support of facilitating access to firearms – a position that has been gaining ground since 2018 throughout the country. He urged supporters to “not respect” their political opponents. “Those on the left,” the MP shouted during the rally, “never imagined that so many people would take to the streets to say that yes, we want to be armed!”

Former president and presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said both Arruda and the murderer, Guaranho, were victims of the same incitement to hatred. “One person, out of intolerance, threatened and shot another, who defended himself and avoided an even greater tragedy. Two families lost their parent.”

The national president of the PT, Gleisi Hoffmann, said in a note that Bolsonaro’s rhetoric “stirs conflicts and attacks on opponents on a daily basis,” in a sinister “project of death.” Bolsonaro, in turn, who is running for re-election, said he doesn’t want to accept “any kind of support from those who practice violence against opponents,” and that it’s actually “the left that has accumulated an undeniable list of violent episodes.”

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