Demo Dogs (2)

And if you enjoyed hearing about Loukanikos — Greek street-dog-turned-protest-icon — you’ll likely want to make sure you know about another famous ‘dog of the people’: one that lived and barked and died in a location that was half a world away from Greece geographically, but no distance at all in terms of what matters to the doggy heart…

Yes, I refer to Santiago’s legendary Negro Matapacos, whose year of birth is unknown to history, but whose fame as a ‘demo dog’ burgeoned in 2011, and who died in ripe old age as recently as 2017…

800px-Mural_Negro_Matapacos.jpg

‘Matapacos’ literally means ‘Cop-Killer’ — and if that sounds luridly provocative to you, you need to remember that no people on earth know better than the Chileans what it feels like to live in a state where public opposition to right-wing authoritarianism and wealth-concentrating neoliberal junkonomics will rapidly find itself hammered into the ground by a militarised police force.

Doctrines of privatisation and marketisation — imported by the disciples of crackpot Austrian libertarians teaching in Chicago, and as calamitously peonising for the majority in Chile as they have been everywhere else — were first imposed in the mid-1970s, following the U.S.-backed military coup that cleared the way for 17-years of Augusto Pinochet. Ever since, the majority of Chileans have lived the kind of waking nightmare in which their society struggles in a permanent state of near-collapse while sociopathic economists celebrate ‘economic miracles’ that serve no-one but rich elites. Small wonder, then, that after an actual billionaire had (self-)served his first term as President, Chile in 2014 had the widest inequality gap among the 34 OECD countries — and no wonder at all that, down to this day, the country experiences one wave of furious protest after another.

If you want to know what was the specific catalyst for the demonstrations that brought Negro Matapacos to demo-dog prominence in 2011, you may care to examine a wikipedia extract…

Image

… and if you want to learn more about our hero’s doggy lifestyle, you will perhaps be interested to know that at the time of his most important radical activity, he was no longer strictly a street dog, as he was housed and fed by a caring lady who would give him a religious blessing when he went out…

Splendidly, an award-winning documentary was made about him during his life…

… but, more importantly, there’s a video montage with loud music

So that’s Negro Matapacos, may Dog Almighty bless him and keep him forever.

And all the other demo dogs too, whether their names and histories be known and celebrated on the street — like the black and white Vaquita in Antofagasta, and Pepe Matapacos in Concepción — or whether they remain unidentified throughout their service and simply vanish from human sight like the humble and selfless souls they are.

Or whether — as happens not seldom! — their identities retain an element of mystery, making them subjects of lasting debate and speculation. Over in Athens, Thodoris could be hard to tell from Loukanikos, especially in the swirl of tear-gas and spraying water. And Thodoris also looked very much like the older Kanellos — to the extent that people have suggested that Kanellos was his father.

For, after all, one of life’s certainties — as certain as death in custody and taxes dodged by the rich — is that, where you have some demo dogs, it’s inevitable that you’ll have a few more before long.

I mean, there are sources in which Negro Matapacos is credited with 32 offspring — and those are just the ones we know about.

They’ll be needed…

Matapacos_santo

MD

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