Bolsonaro will not undergo surgery: doctors

Sao Paulo (AFP) – President Jair Bolsonaro will not need surgery, but there is no date set yet for his discharge, doctors said Tuesday, after the Brazilian leader was rushed to the hospital with a partially blocked intestine.


Bolsonaro, 66, developed abdominal pain during a New Year's beach vacation in the southern state of Santa Catarina, and was taken to a Sao Paulo hospital early Monday aboard the presidential jet.

Doctors said his partial intestinal blockage "has been eliminated," and that he was making "satisfactory progress" -- but would be placed on a liquid diet and remain in hospital for now.

It is the latest in a series of health problems since the far-right leader was stabbed in the abdomen during the 2018 election campaign that brought him to power.

Doctors initially said he could need surgery. However, lead surgeon Antonio Luiz Macedo, who has operated on Bolsonaro in the past, decided a new operation was not necessary.

"President Jair Messias Bolsonaro's intestinal subocclusion has been eliminated, with no need for surgery," Vila Nova Star hospital said in a statement.

"The patient is making satisfactory progress in both clinical evaluations and laboratory exams, and will begin a liquid diet today. There is still no forecast for his release."

Sticking to social media

The president tweeted a picture of himself flashing a thumbs-up from his hospital bed Monday, his face fitted with a nasogastric tube -- a device to carry food and medicine to the stomach through the nose.

Bolsonaro, who is deft at using social media to fire up his base, kept up his online presence Tuesday, posting to Facebook about a dam project in the northeastern state of Ceara and to Twitter about an increased exemption on import fees for scientific equipment.

Bolsonaro was last hospitalized in July, for another intestinal obstruction that gave him persistent hiccups.

On that occasion, he spent four days in hospital. Doctors also decided not to operate and prescribed a liquid diet.

He has undergone at least four surgeries stemming from his stabbing at a campaign rally in September 2018, perpetrated by a man who claimed he was following God's orders, and who was later ruled mentally unfit to stand trial.

Bolsonaro regularly tears up when speaking about the knife attack, which nearly cost him his life.

Despite losing 40 percent of his blood, he survived and went on to win the presidency that October, fueling supporters' die-hard faith in the man they call "Mito" -- "The Myth."

Bolsonaro's aura of invincibility has faded since then, however.

His approval rating is at an all-time low as he prepares to seek re-election this October.

His polarizing style continues to rile up his far-right base, but he has lost crucial support among the political center and business sector.

Brazil's economy is in recession, with high inflation and unemployment.

Bolsonaro also faces widespread criticism over his response to Covid-19.

He has insistently downplayed the virus and flouted expert advice on fighting it, even as the pandemic has claimed nearly 620,000 lives in Brazil -- second only to the United States.

Recent polls put Bolsonaro far behind his likely top opponent in the October election, leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.