SAO PAULO – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro entered a Sao Paulo hospital on Sunday for pre-surgical procedures to prepare him for an operation this week to remove the colostomy bag that he has been using since an attempted assassination last September.
The 63-year-old Bolsonaro, who visited the area affected by a mining accident in Minas Gerais state on Saturday, arrived at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital with his wife, Michelle, and a delegation headed by Security Cabinet Chief Minister Augusto Heleno Ribeiro and several advisers.
Bolsonaro will undergo his third operation after being stabbed in the abdomen while being carried on the shoulders of supporters during a campaign rally.
The rightist politician was unable to participate in numerous campaign events following the stabbing, but he still won the presidency with 55 percent of the vote, defeating leftist Fernando Haddad, the hand-picked candidate of jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Government officials said Bolsonaro was scheduled to have the colostomy bag removed on Monday in an operation that can last three to four hours.
The president will have to rest for 48 hours to recover from surgery, officials said.
Vice President Gen. Hamilton Mourao will serve as head of state while Bolsonaro is recovering.
The president is expected to resume working at the hospital following the 48-hour recovery period.
The operation, which was scheduled several weeks ago, comes as rescue and recovery work continues in Minas Gerais, where at least 37 people died when the dam at a mining complex operated by Vale burst on Friday.
The dam at an iron mine in Brumadinho, a municipality in the southeastern state, collapsed, sending a stream mine waste, mud and water into the complex, which was buried along with a number of nearby homes in rural areas.
Dozens of teams are working on the rescue and recovery operation, which could continue for weeks.
Just over three years ago, a similar tailings dam collapse at a mine jointly owned by Vale and Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP in Mariana, a municipality about 120 kilometers (75 miles) away in Minas Gerais, killed 19 people and caused Brazil’s worst-ever environmental catastrophe.
Friday’s collapse of the dam at the Feijao mine in Brumadinho has caused almost twice that number of fatalities.
The latest reports say that between 250 and 300 people are still listed as missing.
After returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Bolsonaro traveled to Brumadinhos.
On Saturday, Bolsonaro toured the area devastated by the bursting of the tailings dam and vowed that his government would seek justice for those affected by the tragedy.
The president, who took office on Jan. 1, said on Twitter that his administration would “do everything in its power ... to attend to the victims, minimize the damage, investigate what happened and prevent new tragedies like Mariana and Brumadinho for the good of Brazilians and the environment.”
“It’s tough not to get emotional seeing that whole scene,” Bolsonaro said after flying over the region in a helicopter and observing the massive damage caused by the dam rupture at the mine owned by Rio de Janeiro-based Vale, the world’s largest iron-ore producer.
The president is expected to spend 10 days in the hospital, but his administration has created a Crisis Cabinet comprised of several ministers to deal with the situation in Brumadinhos, where officials are monitoring another dam that could burst.