Brazil’s party official shot dead as political violence escalates ahead of elections

Marcelo Arruda, supporter of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was killed by a suspected supporter of Brazilian President Bolsonaro at his birthday party in Foz do Iguacu, poses in this picture taken in Brazil, September 9, 2020. July 10, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Rizzi

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SAO PAULO, July 10 (Reuters) – A local official of Brazil’s left-leaning opposition Workers’ Party (PT) was shot dead on Saturday by a federal prison guard who was calling for support for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, according to a witness by the state’s Civil Police, according to a witness.

Marcelo Arruda, a city guard and PT officer, was celebrating his birthday party in the southern Brazilian city of Foz de Iguacu, in the state of Parana, when Jorge Jose da Rocha Guaranho entered the event and shot him dead.

Arruda, who was also armed, fired back, killing Guaranho, according to a PT statement.

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The deaths of the two men do not bode well ahead of October’s elections, which many expect will be very tense in politically polarized Brazil. Former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is the PT’s presidential candidate and currently leads Bolsonaro in polls.

Bolsonaro, who has long railed against Lula and his left-wing allies, has floated the idea of ​​not accepting electoral losses, citing unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and problems with Brazil’s widely respected electronic voting system.

According to a report by state civilian police and a witness who spoke to Reuters, Guaranho showed up uninvited at the party and pointed a gun while directing insults at those present and words of support for Bolsonaro.

Aluizio Palmar, a journalist at the party, told Reuters that a man arrived and started shouting in support of Bolsonaro, calling him a “legend”.

According to Palmar, the man left but returned about 15 or 20 minutes later and pointed a gun at Arruda.

Arruda ordered him to stop and posed as a member of the security forces.

Both men then opened fire and killed each other, according to the PT statement, the police report and security camera images in local media.

“Another dear comrade died this morning, a victim of intolerance, hatred and political violence,” PT national leader Gleisi Hoffmann said in a statement.

Bolsonaro’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taking to social media, Bolsonaro repeated a 2018 post “in which he refused to support those who use violence against opponents.”

“I urge these types of people to consistently switch sides and support the left,” Bolsonaro said in the tweet.

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Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Eduardo Simões; writing by Ana Mano; Edited by Chizu Nomiyama and Christopher Cushing

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