Bus 174, a documentary from 2002, portrays the events that occurred in Rio de Janeiro on June 12, 2000. A young man, and former Rio street kid, by the name of Sandro do Nascimento holds a public bus hostage at gunpoint. The documentary covers the events as they unfold, as well as the tangled background of Sandro, and on any given day another street kid, due to the economic conditions in Rio, Brazil. With the massive population growth, the economic growth they were experiencing just was not enough pull those working the hardest for it out of poverty. The rich were getting richer, but the poor were getting poorer. “In Brazil, the second half of the eighteenth century also brought heightened concern with the social disorder that coincided with increased wealth and urban growth.” ( Szuchman 12) Those who lived in the favelas, or even in the streets, were surrounded by those who were wealthy, having to stare at what they could not have right in front of their eyes. Living conditions were so bad children took to the streets rather than grow up in their home, feeling they had a better chance. Sandro was one of these such kids, having watched his mother be murdered in front of him, he was forced at a very young age to defend for himself. This, incorporated with the corrupt, untrained excuse they call police and the joke for prisons he frequented, provide an understanding glimpse into the rough times he encountered growing up to create such a desperate man.
While holding the hostages on the bus, Sandro, more than once, yelled to the police about how this was not some American shot ‘em up movie, it was real, and he was there to turn up the heat. (References are also made to the love/hate relationship Latin Americans feel toward the U.S. in The Heart the Bleeds). It was almost as if Sandro had no end game. His whole goal was to draw attention to the hardships those like him were experiencing to make them this way. The hostages as a whole were not hurt, with him even telling them they would not be harmed. Only when he knew it was over did he lose his control and end up shooting someone. It was like he knew the incompetence of the police, knew it would be broadcast, maybe not just a simple stick up gone wrong.
In attempting to understand the sorrow one feels for the outcome of what happened, it may be best explained when paralleled to Alberto Salcedo Ramos’ The Drive-by Victim. In the story, the main character in the story is taken hostage in during a cab ride home. While being beaten repeatedly, he is told that he will not be killed if he cooperates. However, the whole time he is very unsure of this. He is panicking, but tries to remain calm. In the end, he gives them what they want, and is dropped off in the middle of nowhere, but he is alive. He concludes his tale by stating “I thought that we were so screwed in this country that the only option left to us in the end is thanking the thieves.” (Ramos 137) As well as in Rio, it was almost as if hope for a better future was so far gone that the only was to remain optimistic was to hope if and when such an encounter occurred, you would make it out alive. Everyone has an understanding of the dire circumstances that bring the criminals to act this way, so much that they are willing to forgive them, even thank them, in the end. Such as in Ramos’ tale, the victims of the bus 174 incident also were willing to forgive Sandro for taking them hostage.