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Brazil’s Bolsonaro hospitalized with abdominal pain, floats possibility of surgery

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gives a thumbs up Jan. 3 while hospitalized in São Paulo. (Twitter account/AFP/Getty Images)
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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was hospitalized early Monday with abdominal pain from an apparent intestinal obstruction and later announced on social media that surgery could be necessary.

The abdominal discomfort was the latest health complication to afflict Bolsonaro since his near-fatal stabbing in 2018 while campaigning for the presidency. He has since undergone four surgeries and was hospitalized for five days this past July with similar symptoms.

“I started to feel bad after breakfast on Sunday. I arrived to the hospital at 3 a.m.," he said on social media. “It’s the second hospitalization with the same symptoms, resulting from the stabbing and four large surgeries.”

Bolsonaro, who has been criticized in recent days for vacationing while floods devastated northeastern Brazil, cut short his trip to the southern shoreline when he started feeling ill. He was taken to Hospital Vila Nova Star in São Paulo, where doctors are evaluating whether surgery will be needed. The hospital said in a statement that his condition is stable.

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“Last time, he didn’t need surgery,” Antônio Luiz Macedo, the doctor treating Bolsonaro, told the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. “It’s not ruled out, but there is no way to say whether he’ll need to be operated on.”

Despite the gravity of the stabbing Bolsonaro suffered, which resulted in a significant loss of blood, the far-right nationalist has maintained an active lifestyle. He has led motorcycle parades filled with supporters and frequently rides water scooters along the coastline. Doctors, according to local media reports, have warned him against such activities.

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The stabbing was perhaps the most volatile moment of the 2018 presidential electoral cycle, which also included the imprisonment of Bolsonaro’s greatest political rival, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro’s assailant, Adélio Bispo de Oliveira, said he had been “chosen by God” to “save Brazil.” The stabbing led to a spike in popular support for Bolsonaro, a swell he rode to the presidential palace.

Officials have not yet given a timetable for when Bolsonaro might be released.

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