Bus 147

The film Bus 147 depicts a hostage situation on a bus in Rio de Janeiro on June 12th 2000. Sandro Rosa do Nascimento was the perpetrator of the crime. He was raised on the streets of Rio de Janeiro after his mother was murdered in front of him when he was 4. He was one of the survivors of the Candelaria Massacre, where 8 children were shot outside the Candelaria Church in 1993.

The film brings up many good questions relating to treatment of the urban poor. Who was the real victim on Bus 147 that day? Sandro was treated poorly his entire life. He was raised in the streets, with crime being the only useful tool in securing food, clothing, money, and in some cases shelter from the elements. Many of these street children are killed each year due to meaningless murders, gang-related deaths, or other crimes gone wrong. The War of a Thousand Days in Colombia, mentioned by Forrest Hylton, is a similar circumstance where the poor are killing other poor citizens (Hylton 36). The well to do are more at fault in Colombia, where they basically hired the peasants to do battle with their ideological counterparts. The wealthy Brazilians are at fault due to inactivity more than directly. With the poor fighting each other, who was fighting for the poor in these developing nations? It seems illogical to assume the affluent would go out of their way to influence change in the social structure, as they benefited from its flaws.

Jo-Marie Burt writes that mirrors the situation in Rio de Janiero and Colombia in that the aristocrats and noblemen had immunity before the law. These actions in addition to the citrus boom of Southern Italy gave rise to the mafia, an organization that allowed peasants and lower class citizens to maintain and grow political power and wealth for the first time in their existence (Burt 108). In Colombia, the mafia grew due to the trade and trafficking of illegal drugs, specifically marijuana and cocaine. Many of these mafia members turned their illegal power and wealth into legitimate power and wealth due to laundering their money through local businesses and being able to purchase control over people, including policemen and politicians. Historically, mafias are able to come into power in areas with little or no state control. They use this lack of oversight to establish themselves as overseers of the state or geographic area, creating a militia of sorts to control the masses of the region.

In all of these situations the wealthy have taken advantage of the lower class citizens, and the only way for the poor to respond is through illegal activities. Whether petty street crime to scrape by, the creation of a mafia to garner political influence, or the creation of a drug cartel to make millions of dollars which go towards political and cultural influence as well as immense wealth.