Bus 174 (2002)

Bus 174 (2002) is a documentary depicting the hijacking of a bus by an armed man, named Sandro do Nascimento. He took all the passengers hostage. The film documents how the tragedies that unfolded in his life that ultimately led him to turn to violence in order to survive. From the age of a child, he lived on the streets. His mother had died a violent death. He had family, but they simply did not have enough money to take care of him. When he took the bus hostage, he informed the police and everyone else that he had nothing left to lose. And he says to the police, “I don’t give a shit about you pigs terrorizing me.” Then Sandro mentions a massacre at Candelaria church because he recognizes one of the police officers. Sandro used to sleep outside the Candelaria church with a bunch of other street children, it was almost as if they had created their own community. But the police came in and beat and killed some of the children.

Mark Szuchman, in “The City as Vision—The Development of Urban Culture in Latin America” depicts the cultural and class effects of urbanization. All across Latin America, there was mass migration to cities, in order to find jobs that make more money than the jobs available in the rural areas. However, with this mass exodus out of the country to the city, rich and poor began to live together. Szuchman says, “Cities began to grow dramatically in size and opulence. Elite built homes of palatial dimensions…The poor continued to live in humble structures…As urban population densities increased, so did pressure to optimize the utilization of space. The result was the subdivision of old colonial structures and the consequent rise of the tenement. Thus, wealth and poverty continued to coexist in sharp contrast”(Szuchman 20). Clearly there were stark differences between the varying classes in Latin America. There was simply rich versus poor. As seen in Rio de Janiero, in Bus 174, the police were on the side of the rich. They turned their back on the poor, and more importantly on the children that lived in the street. It is almost as if they lost their sense of humanity.

In his account of being robbed in Colombia, Alberto Salcedo Ramos says that after the robbery was over, one of the men in the taxi told him, “No, old man, it’s not like that either. That’s the problem with people like you. You start complaining before you even know what abuse really is. You haven’t seen anything, son” (Ramos 136). Essentially, Ramos was so worried about being hurt that he didn’t even realize how these thieves suffered. They were jobless, and forced to rob in order to save one their friends. In a sense, just like the community of street children in Bus 194, these “thieves” have a better sense of solidarity and community than the rich who take a lot of things for granted.  The people that steal and rob are still human; they were just forced into a life they did not want because of structural violence. As I mentioned in my last post, violence gives birth to itself. The structural violence these people suffer from manifests itself into the violent means they use in order to survive. Therefore, they are also victims themselves.