On Sunday, the Interpol arrested Italian author and militant in exile Cesare Battisti, reportedly under the instigation of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Battisti, member of the left group, Armed Proletarians for Communism (APC), was in exile since 1981. He is wanted for four murders, a charge he has denied. He was aided by the former president of Brazil, Lula Da Silva, who bestowed refugee status on him on humanitarian grounds. In December 2018, Brazilian president Michel Temer signed the order to extradite Battisti after the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered his arrest. Reports confirmed that he was extradited to Italy after he was arrested in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Bolsonaro’s son tweeted that the arrest was a gift to the far-right Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini. Bolsonaro and his allies have time and again declared their intention to target the left in Brazil.
The Social Movements of ALBA issued a statement in solidarity with Cesare Battisti. The statement said, “We stand firmly in solidarity with comrade Cesare Battisti who is arbitrarily and in violation of various international human rights treaties detained in Bolivian territory by the Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro for his illegal, illegitimate and unjust extradition to his native country where he was sentenced to chain perpetual in absence and violating different principles that conform the due process guaranteed in international instruments of human rights‘.
Meanwhile, a member of the Rio de Janeiro State Assembly, Martha Rocha, of the Brazil Democratic Labour Party (PDT) was attacked by an unidentified armed man in the city on Sunday. Rocha survived the attack but former legislator Geonisio Medeiros who was driving the car she was in was shot in the leg
Rocha had earlier reported receiving threats from militia groups and had taken to traveling in an armored car.
Globo.com reported that Martha Rocha could see, in a back car following her, a man armed with a rifle. “We picked up speed up but the other car came up to us and a tall man in a black suit with black gloves and balaclava appeared and shot at us”, she said.
‘O DIA’ reported that on January 4, Duque de Caxia Mayor Washington Reis’s motorcade was also shot at, although he escaped unhurt. The mayor is from the Brazilian Democratic Movement.
Following the election of Jair Bolsonaro, observers had expressed the fear that there would be a renewed militarization in the country with the emergence of right-wing militias. Bolsonaro himself has vowed to target indigenous and left wing activists who opposed his neo-liberal policies. On March 14 2018, a socialist councilwoman from Rio, Marielle Franco, and her driver were shot to death in their car. Marielle Franco was a fierce critic of right wing violence in the country.