Bus 174

Bus 174 is a documentary of a hostage situation on a bus in Brazil.  Sandro do Nacimiento, a man from the streets who had made a living with crime, boarded a bus one day and what was supposed to be a robbery escalated into a 4 hour hostage situation in which one victim was killed, ironically by the poilice and not Sandro.

By investigating a specific scenario of violence which is all too common in Rio, we are presented with a recurring theme in Latin America.  In cities throughout the region (in fact anywhere where the gap between the wealthy and the poor is so large) the socially marginalized are forced into seedy lives of crime and violence just to survive.  As we see in this movie and City of God this lifestyle takes root during childhood.  In Rio, and no doubt elsewhere, street kids are seen as a menace to society and certainly treated less than human.  In the movie Sandro references many times the incidence of the Candelaria Massacre in which 8 homeless children were shot to death by policemen; they were fired upon as they slept outside the church.  Sandro was among the survivors and in the documentary this is given a reason that would drive a man to commit a crime such as he did.

Alberto S. Ramos, in his article “The Drive-by Victim.” recounts a similar tale of robbery in Brazil where he is the victim.  He takes a a questionable taxi in a questionable part of town (which he later admits was a huge mistake on his part) and en route to his home the txi is hijacked by two theives and he is robbed.  The robbers are unarmed, but Ramos says that it wasn’t even neccessary for them to have a weappon considering the fear tactics and physical abuse they imposed on him were enough to solicit all the information and valuables they needed from their victim.  At the end of his article he states “…we are so screwed in this country that the only option we have left is thanking the thieves” (137).  Of course, he means thanking them for only taking his material posessions and leaving him with his life intact.  This is a very powerful statement, clearing showing the state of a society where wealth is so massively uneven between the classes.

Alma Guillermoprieto, in her article “The Heart that Bleeds,” records the statemnet of a local Mexican that says, “A Mexican knows thatlife is worthless” (240).  This is statement that would only be issued by a severly marginalized people.  heir situation is so hopeless that they cease to see the value in life.  Sandor conveyed the same message when he tells himself “I have nothing to lose.”  His mother was brutality murder in front of his eyes, catapulting him into a life on the streets, where is visciously attacked by “enforcers” of the law and loses many of his friends.  What does he have to left to value?  He has none of the reasons or motivations, like we do, to prevent him from putting his life on the line.