Bus 174 gives a detailed look into the debacle of Sandro’s “holdup” of Bus 174 versus the incompetence and inefficiency of the Brazilian Police force. Sandro exemplifies the brutality of the culture surrounding Street Kids in Brazil and abroad. The film delves into the history of Sandro by interviewing those who were close to him, in both Street Gangs and his remaining family, whilst also depicting the deplorable conditions of Brazilian jails.
His mothers violent death so early in his childhood affected Sandro for the rest of his life, traumatizing him up till the Bus incident, as is evident in him speaking about how they killed his mother. He had also mentioned it frequently with the social workers that tried to help him in his youth. Though his purpose on the bus is still unclear, it would appear it was a normal hold-up gone wrong. As the film progresses, the viewer gains more sympathy for the situation of Sandro, best summarized by Alberto Ramos’s line, “And i thought that we are so screwed in this country that the only option left to us in the end is thanking the thieves,” as they are, “thieves man, not killers.” Left with a desperate situation theft is their means of livelihood. The thieves in Ramos’s “The Drive by Victim” explain that the victim does not understand abuse as he, “hasn’t seen anything yet”. This shows the struggle they face each day to survive, in league with the insurmountable amount of abuse they receive from society and the government (Massacres, night murders, etc, as displayed in the film). So in their thefts they resort to violence only if necessary, similar to Sandro. He did not wish to kill anyone on the bus, due to his indesisiveness (though this may have been drug related), in addition to telling the girls on the bus to “act” and firing a fake shot at one of them.
Interestingly enough, the Police Negotiator even suggested that the situation would have been handled differently if they had realized he was a “street kid”, suggesting they have a method of dealing with this phenomenon, or at least understanding their psyche. Unfortunately, as the film suggests, this method is part of the problem, as the institution itself is faulty and ineffective.
“The Heart that Bleeds” by Alma Guillermoprieto shows how modernity in these cities, along with American Imperalistic attitudes can cause the little people to fall through the cracks as “Modernity is a buzzword”. The new subway is one such example, as it increases revenue for the state as a more easily accessible means of transportation, however the poor shop owners and mariachi bands are now loosing work, as the main road is less traveled by (taking customers on the subway, instead of letting them wonder freely, to pick their own mariachi band etc.). This exemplifies the lack of Government help or concern for lower class citizens, like Sandro of Bus 174.
Though theft is inherently wrong, one cannot help but sympathize with the Situation of Sandro and the Street kids of Brazil and other Latin American cultures. Left to their own devices by a crippled and uncaring government, they must resort to illegitimate means survive. Though other avenues may be presented to them, they are without the guidance, financial means and of the proper class (insofar as to say because they are street kids they are viewed as unable to be anything other than) to get a proper education or a job ( as Sandro points out in the film, ex con, cant read, no education equals no job). With this in mind, the condition of the street kid will not improve, but rather continue.