A dog is a man’s best friend. But this dog was far more important than that. He was the persecuted man’s best friend too.
During Chilean protests of 2019 as concerned citizens took to the streets, demanding an overthrow of the discriminatory practices that ensured the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, they carried with them an image of a true socialist hero: a black, bandana-wearing dog named El Negro Matapacos.
The dog’s face has been spray-painted onto the side of buildings; printed on t-shirts; distributed on flyers. For many Chileans, he has become a symbol of resistance over the years. This goes back to 2011.
Back in 2011, when Chile was in the midst of a wave of student protests, as young people across the country fought against the privatisation of universities and demanded education became more accessible for everybody, regardless of social class, a stray dog had joined them.
Funnily enough, he was kind to the students but very hostile and aggressive towards the police officers and thus was nicknamed El Negro Matapcos or The Black Cop Killer.
Will the Negro Matapacos, a dog that accompanied the Chilean students in the 2011 revolts, become the symbol of a worldwide crisis of representation? Drawings of him have been spotted in NY while demonstrators massively evaded transport fares to protest against police brutality. pic.twitter.com/UQykCydjiV— nikitapompei (@nikitapompei) November 2, 2019
Over the next few years, Negro Matapacos continued to join in on student protests. And even though he was a stray and had no true master, he was always cared for by the people. People gave him bed, food and the distinctive bandanas that he later came to be associated with.
Matapacos lived a long and happy life and when he passed, in August of 2017, the country’s political class truly mourned him. Tributes appeared in major newspapers. His image was emblazoned across walls.
Someone recently posted a Twitter thread remembering him. Take a look.
During this time of protest, I know we could all use an uplifting story. So I want to tell you about El Negro Matapacos, the heroic Chilean protest dog who hated the police. pic.twitter.com/quxgmxN7n6— Respectable Lawyer (@RespectableLaw) May 31, 2020
They even wrote poems about him. The dog made no bold speeches; wrote no op-eds and won no awards but he still remains the face of Chilean democratic struggles.