A Brazilian taxi driver has had his left eye surgically removed after being hit by a rubber bullet while watching a protest over President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of COVID-19.
Daniel Campelo was in the center of the city of Recife in Pernambuco on Saturday afternoon when he was hit by the projectile.
Campelo, 51, underwent surgery on Monday at the Altino Ventura Foundation clinic, but remained hospitalized at Hospital Restauraçao.
‘My eye has been removed. I have no vision,” said Campelo, according to Brazil’s online news portal G1. “In the situation we are in, we have to thank God, but I don’t wish (bad) anyone.”
Organized by left-wing political parties, trade unions and student associations, Saturday’s protests in the capital Brasilia and in Rio de Janeiro were peaceful, unlike in Recife.
Protesters carried placards that read ‘Down with Bolsonaro’ and ‘Improach now’.
Daniel Campelo, a taxi driver, was in the center of the city of Recife in Pernambuco on Saturday afternoon when he was hit by a rubber bullet fired by a military police officer who dispersed demonstrators who gathered to protest Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic
President Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted during the coronavirus crisis, with more than 462,791 Brazilians killed as the far-right leader downplayed its seriousness, rejected wearing masks and cast doubt on the importance of vaccines
Jonas Correia, 29, was on his way home when he was suddenly caught in the middle of the protest. The married father was also struck by a rubber bullet, which caused him to lose sight in his right eye
Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted during the coronavirus crisis, in which more than 450,000 Brazilians have died as the far-right leader downplayed its seriousness, rejected the wearing of masks and cast doubt on the importance of vaccines.
Most protesters wore masks and tried to observe social distancing protocols, not always with success, as they called for faster vaccinations across the country.
Jonas Correia, 29, was also blind in one eye after being suddenly caught in the middle of the same protest in Recife on his way home.
Protesters react amid tear gas at riot police during a protest against President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s Recife on Saturday
Daniel Campelo is helped by bystanders after being hit in the left eye by a rubber bullet. He had surgery on Monday to remove the eye
Jonas Correia gets help from others after being injured as riot police and anti-Bolsonaro protesters clash in Brazil’s Recife
Correia was shot in the right eye, had to be rushed to the emergency room of the Altino Ventura Foundation clinic before being transferred to Hospital Restauraçao.
He learned Monday that he had lost sight in his right eye and is waiting for the swelling to subside and will meet with doctors at the clinic on Wednesday.
Surgeons say they don’t plan to remove his injured eye, and it’s unclear if it will remain permanently blind.
“Only God knows what I’ve been through and going through,” Correia told G1 on Tuesday. ‘Today I woke up very sad, tormented, because I am a young man, healthy, independent, I like to work. I am very family (oriented), I think a lot about my children, and what will become of me now?
‘My children and my wife, who need me. I don’t even know what to say, it’s just the desperation of a father going for the family’s livelihood. I cried a lot,” added Correia, who said government officials have not yet contacted him.
His wife Daniela Barreto met with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Pernambuco to determine his legal action.
A man lies down as riot police and anti-Bolsonaro protesters clash in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife on Saturday
Riot police officers stand with their shields at a demonstration in Recife, Brazil, as protesters took to the streets to call out President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic
The Altino Ventura Foundation has issued a statement saying that while no surgery is required at this time, it “may change based on patient evolution and the results of the new studies.”
Pernambuco governor Paula Câmara on Saturday suspended the commander of Recife’s military police and four police officers after it was reported that councilor Liana Cirne, who took part in the protest, had been beaten with pepper spray.
Videotaped by a protester, Cirne was seen approaching a police car to speak to an officer and identify herself before one of the officers in the vehicle sprayed her.
“They are and were cowards, because they attacked not only me, but also protesters who did nothing,” Cirne told G1. “They fired rubber bullets at people who were doing nothing, trying to protect themselves. I have no reason to be afraid. I won’t be afraid.’