The film Bus 174 is about the hostage situation in Rio de Janeiro in 2000. The kidnapper, Sandro do Nascimento, was a troubled street kid. His story is one of misfortune. He witnessed the murder of his mother and never knew his father so he believed his only other option was to live on the streets and become a street kid. The film shows the live footage of the terrifying hostage situation and the incompetent police that were supposed to be handling it. Sandro’s life was a very difficult one. He grew up with kids and lived outside of a church. People would come by and throw rocks or ever drop stones on their heads at night because these kids that had nothing else in their lives were viewed as a nuisance that should be eradicated. One night a group of police came by and shot most of his friends. His general disdain for the police is justified by this incident.
In The Drive-By Victim, Alberto Ramos tells the story about three hijackers who take a taxi hostage. This situation is similar to Sandro’s. Neither claim to be killers, only thieves. They are only thieves because they have no other options in life. Ramos realizes that these kids are not terrible people, only desperate because their friend was hurt and they need three million pesos by that night to help him. They have no intention of hurting him if he cooperates. The two kidnappers that Ramos ended up with in the end stayed calm and were comforting to a certain point when he began to panic. The situation in Brazil during this time is summed up perfectly in the last line of The Drive-By Victim, “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.”
The Heart that Bleeds tells about how American influence in Mexico has destroyed their simple lifestyles and caused a rift in the classes. The middle classes are enjoying the new American fast food while the lower classes are still holding on to the old ideas and struggling to get by. The free trade agreement with America is depicted in a negative light as well as the complete control by the government. The middle and upper classes are taken care of but as seen in Bus 174 the lower classes and street kids are seen as a problem that needs to be taken out before it infects the rest of society. This is seen in the “school” that Sandro is taken too. The boys are beaten and abused inside because they are considered simple criminals that will never amount to anything. The image of the school to the outside is that they are helping these kids better themselves and when they get out and hijack a bus it is not their fault but just a bad criminal.
Sandro’s life is wrought with tragedy and because of his terrible childhood and the lack of support by society for these poor kids on the street they are forced to be thieves. To deal with the pain and loss they have experienced they turn to drugs, which in turn causes them to act irrationally like Sandro did on Bus 174.