Bus 174 captures the inefficiency of the Brazilian government. Children roam the streets and social programs lack the means and organization to provide a system in which orphaned children have a back-up plan. “The problems of economic inequity, social and ethnic conflict, inadequate physical resources, administrative inefficiency, and inept social planning — all of which afflict the region’s cities” (Szuchman xiii). Sandro experienced violent death at an early age when he witnessed the murder of his mother. Other homeless and hungry children, like Sandro, have witnessed similar events or left their homes before things could escalate to that level. During his holdup of Bus 174 he breaks down temporarily because he was a child of the Candeleria Massacre in which the police force kills a group of children to “clean up the streets.” “The weight and power of municipal authorities have been weakened significantly in cities where crime and overcrowding have made human life a cheap-and disposable- commodity” (Szuchman 24). The police force’s authority continues to decline throughout the movie, and their inefficiency is exemplified during the hold up of Bus 174. There were multiple opportunities for the police to take control of the situation, but like the audience cannot unglue their eyes to a horror movie, the people (authority figures included) could not stop watching the slow destruction Sandro was causing.
Because of his psychological issues, the level of danger in the situation varied from hour to hour, and his sole purpose in holding innocent college students captive was in his “battle against invisibility” (Bus 174). Ever since he ran away after the death of his murder, Sandro, like many Brazilian children have been ignored. People begin to ignore the children performing “talents” during the red light because it is so sad to watch the children hopelessly try to be noticed. They not only seek food, shelter, and money … they seek attention, like children are naturally inclined to. I don’t believe that the death of one of the girls was or was not Sandro’s fault. Obviously the whole messy situation could have been ignored if Sandro hadn’t boarded the bus to begin with, but the same could be said about the Rio police force and their ability to shut their eyes when situations began to escalate beyond their training. They were in no way prepared in training, they were lacking walkie-talkies, and the Bus 174 incident ended tragically is the police’s miscalculations and inability to act during crucial moments.