El Negro Matapacos: Black Chilean Dog Who Became

Negro Matapacos (translated as Black Cop-Killer) was a Chilean dog that acquired fame due to his participation in the street protests that took place in Santiago, Chile during the 2010s. Among his characteristics was his black fur and the red handkerchief that was tied around his neck, although he also had a blue and a white handkerchief that was placed by their caregiver. His name came from Spanish matar (to kill) and paco, which is Chilean slang for “policeman”.

In the early 2010s when the students in Chile took to the streets against the privatization of universities demanding education became more accessible for everybody, little did they know that a dog would become the symbol of the revolution. This socialist hero wore a bandana and unflinching courage. The young radicals knew him as a faithful comrade who endured tear gas and water cannons, and who only ever attacked or barked at pacos (Chilean slang for cops).

Over the next few years, he became ubiquitous at events that brought together groups from the Central University of Chile, the University of Santiago de Chile, and the Metropolitan University of Technology. Tributes from this time include a documentary by Saint Tomás University students and a mural at the USACH School of Journalism by artists from 12 Brillos.
High costs of living and the privatization of social services are driving the most intense public outcry in Chile since the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Demands for fairer pensions follow decades of incremental pressures stemming from the neoliberal project, for which Chile has long been a testing ground. Since late October, President Sebastián Piñera has canceled economic and climate summits replaced members of his Cabinet, and raised the minimum wage. Still, many Chileans are calling for his resignation using the hashtag #PiñeraRenuncia.

In 2019, a black Chilean dog sporting a red bandana became the face of the New York subway protests which rocked the city last year. Much like the anti-racism protests across the United States following the police killing of 46-year-old African- American man George Floyd, several groups took to the streets last year to speak up against police brutality on African American and brown youths in the subways. For instance, in October 2019, a young African American boy was beaten up by the police in the subway.

El Negro would be present at most protests, but he never hurt a civilian. The only time the dog turned aggressive was when the police attacked students. 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.

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