Bus 174

This week in class we watched the movie Bus 174. This movie was a documentary that followed the events involving a hostage situation on bus 174 on July 12, 2000. The hostage taker was Sandro, and the documentary delved deep into the life of Sandro to make more sense as to why someone would feel the need to take hostages a put innocent lives in danger. The movie uncovers the secrets of Sandro’s life; his mother was stabbed to death in front of him when he was very young, he lived a very rough life on the streets, the police beat up him and his friends, and the deplorable conditions Sandro experienced while he was in the jail. With all of these horrible experiences, it is easier to see why Sandro decided to commit the crime that he did.
I think the largest atrocity was committed by the local police instead of Sandro. The police did a horrible job. One of the main images I remember from the movie was a bicycle rider enjoying his ride right beside a bus with a hostage situation unraveling. The police force did not set up a perimeter, and because of this, many reporters and civillians were able to be very close to danger. In turn, the inability to follow protocol and set up a perimeter, eventually led to the death of one of the hostages. Becuase the reporters were able to maintain visualization of the situation with Sandro, live footage was broadcast on television, and this made the government and police reluctant to take a sniper shot which would have saved the hostages. The governor called the police chief and told him that he wanted Sandro taken alive becuase they did not want Sandro’s assassination broadcasted to families throughout Latin America. Although many opportunities presented themselves to the snipers, no shot was taken, and one of the hostages was eventually killed, by one of the cops. When one of the cops finally tried to take out Sandro, the cop ended up shooting the hostage in the face and killing her. The police definitely had the blood of this hostage on their hands.
With a haphazard police force, like the ones policing the bus, how can anyone living in their city feel protected? The movies that we have watched in the past, City of God, have shown corrupt police as well, and this, matched with their ineptness, creates an uneasy feeling for the civilians of Latin America. One writer, Albert Ramos who wrote The Drive-By Victim shows this same feeling. Ramos’s work also follows a hijacking where the police can not be found for help, ” we are so screwed in this country that the only option we have left is thanking the thieves,” (Ramos,317). This shows how many of the people must feel when thinking about the police force of Latin America.
If the police force is not bad enough, it is seen, through Bus 174, that the government was the ones who controlled the hostage situation and kept the police’s hands tied behind their backs. In The Heart that Bleeds by Guillermoprieto, the story of Nafta and its effects on society is chronicled. With the advent of NAFTA, the government seemed to control all aspects of life. The citizens of Latin America, many of which are of lower class and often forgotten by the upper classes, are ruled by a government that is severly disconnected from them and have no clue or care about what they go through. The government’s disconnection is seen by the governor’s willingness to save face while losing hostage’s lives.