Bus 174 is the story of one man’s life and his final act after an existence of poverty, oppression, abuse, murder, and corruption. Sandro do Nascimento had been a street kid since very soon after watching his mother being stabbed to death while he was a child. He grew up with other children in the slums of Rio de Janiero, frequently having to steal or bum just to be able to eat. He lived a life of hopelessness, bouncing around from streets to inhumane jail cells where everyone seemed intent on physical abuse. He witnessed cops murder his friends in the Candelaria Massacre, and he watched them walk away free from trials arranged for justice. He was a lonely man who never had much to look forward to, finding himself addicted to huffing glue and cocaine.
On his final day, Sandro lost control of his actions, causing a hostage situation on a bus that lasted for hours and ended in the death of both himself and one of his hostages. Examining this story from a distance, it seems easy to castigate Sandro as a violent and selfish man who took the life of an innocent woman all for his own self- that he was insane and evil, deserving of the title anathema. But Sandro had seen and felt so much malevolence and hatred in his life that it seems he cannot be blamed for his actions. Raised in the bosom of corruption, he retained his resilience for an impressive amount of time until every ounce of his angst surged from him. He responded poorly on bus 174, but it was a response that had been forming for two decades of destitute and squalid living conditions that had the strongest of effects on him.
Yet there are many children and young people in a similar position as Sandro in Brazil and around the world. A combination of corruption and violence that permeates the slums of Rio and the independence of the common and lesser men in Mexico. These are governments that do not represent the people, they represent only some of the people. The poor are looked down upon and often victims of irreparable acts. The Heart That Bleeds attacks the Free Trade Agreement and labels it as a means for the rich to get richer while the poor starve. NAFTA stripped jobs away from those who needed them; it only furthered the already horrible conditions of the lower class. And this inevitably leads to high crime rates in a nation “so screwed… that the only option left to us in the end is thanking the thieves”(Ramos, 137). There are so many people in places like Rio de Janiero where the individual tends to lose its self-value. While death and crime are seemingly everywhere, there are bound to be situations like what occurred on bus 174 as a retaliation against a system where some many people are treated with the utmost in disrespect. Latin America is facing serious issues in the conditions in which its people are living in. As violence seems permanent and rampant, it must begin to ask itself who is to blame for all of its problems.