LA PAZ – The mixed-breed dog that accompanied grassroots leaders in the southwestern Bolivian city of Potosi during the recent wave of protests has become a star on Facebook, with more than 19,700 people following him on the social network.
The mutt, known as Petardo (Firecracker), joined the protests during the march by Potosi Civic Committee, or Comcipo, leaders to La Paz in early July, the organization’s president, Jhonny Llally, told EFE by telephone on Saturday.
The pooch appeared for the first time as the protesters were reaching Caracollo, a town located 193 kilometers (about 120 miles) from La Paz, Llally said.
“From there, he walked with us, but he appeared and disappeared. When we reached the La Paz stretch, he was with us permanently on the march and did not leave us until the end (of the demonstration),” the Comcipo leader said.
Petardo got his name because, unlike other dogs, he did not run away when firecrackers and dynamite charges were set off, a daily occurrence during the Comcipo street protests in La Paz over the past month.
The pooch participated in all the marches and endured tear gas and streams of water from the hoses used by riot police to disperse the crowds.
Petardo’s image was captured on the front lines in videos and photographs of the protests shot by media outlets, and pictures of the dog were shared on social networks.
The Comcipo delegation returned to Potosi on Thursday after failing to reach an agreement with President Evo Morales’s administration on 26 demands they were making for the region. And Petardo went home with them.
Comcipo is demanding major public works projects for Potosi, including the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, hospitals, highways, glass and cement factories, and an international airport.
The Facebook page “Petardo: Potosino y Federalista,” created in late July, had 19,797 “likes” as of Saturday and numerous comments praising the mutt for his loyalty to Potosi’s cause.