Bus 174 gives insight into how a young man came to hold up a city bus in Rio de Janeiro. Sandro Rosa was a young man who witnesses his mom being killed. This created much stress in his life, and being unable to deal with his feelings, he fled to the streets. Here he joined a group of street kids, living out the remainder of his childhood on the streets. Throughout his life he saw brutality by corrupt police officers, saw many of his friends being beaten to death by police officers and spent many years in Brazilian jails run by corrupt policemen. During his childhood on the streets he was in and out of juvenile detention centers and many times was released into his Aunt’s custody. He continued to run away from her and find himself back in these detention centers.
This outline of Sandro’s life helps the viewer understand why he held up the bus. He was a desperate man, who many feel was on drugs at the time, trying to bring light to a corrupt police system. There is no excuse for his actions, however, Sandro was a product of his upbringing. Many people in Latin America act the same way. In The Drive By Victim, Alberto Ramos outlines his experiences being mugged in a taxi. His attackers beat him and yelled at him until he was so scared that he cooperated with everything they asked. They robbed him of his savings account to pay a debt so their friend wouldn’t be killed. Many poor Latin American people fall into this lifestyle in order to either get back at the corrupt police, or just to survive.
Alma Guillermoprieto outlines in The Heart that Bleeds that much of the economy in Mexico is in shambles because of the United States. He says that outside companies set up in the area and do nothing to help the Mexican economy. This whole system does nothing to help poor Mexicans leave poverty. In fact it encourages many people to fall through the cracks and resort to the exact same actions that Sandro and Ramos’ robbers. It’s nothing more than desperate people doing anything they can to live through a system that failed them.
At the end of Bus 174, Sandro walks out of the bus with a hostage. He faked killing two hostages in hopes that the police would cooperate with him and let him leave. Unfortunately, the untrained police force killed the only hostage that died because of poor planning and lack of leadership. After this happened, Sandro shot her three times in the back after being tackled by the police. Sandro was a thief, a petty criminal and a drug addict. Sandro was not a killer. He shows this throughout the entire ordeal. However, the police did not help the situation and resulted in the deaths of both Sandro and the hostage. The police are as much to blame for the situation in Brazil as the criminals are.