Rocket master Don Jorge, the pride of Socoltenango Chiapas


The rocketers are the ones who are in charge of the burning of rockets and other fireworks during the festivities in the towns.

In the villages, the rockets play a fundamental role, before, during, and after the patron saint festivities and other festivities, because thanks to them it is possible to hear the explosion of rockets from the sky that announce the celebration of a festival.

In Chiapas, burning rockets is a common activity, since it is usually done during patron saint fairs, weddings, baptisms and 15 years, although the use of rockets is a tradition, few people have the courage to a rocket maestro, due to how dangerous an accident can be …

Despite the danger of being a rocketer, there are people willing to carry out the activity, Jorge Ballinas Constantino, a 95-year-old adult recounts his experience as a rocketeer in the municipality of Socoltenango, in which he was a rocketeer for more than 20 years, in those who lived a series of experiences related to the trade.

Explosions in the hand, near the ears, and burns are some of the dangers to which a rocket maestro is exposed during the performance of its work, in the worst case a rocket accident can even represent death, because It is not customary to use any safety equipment, such as goggles or gloves when lighting a rocket and directing it to the sky.

Don Jorge Ballinas, who is known for being a rocketeer, pointed out that the events for which those who have the ability and have lost their fear of burning rockets are requested.

A rocketeer is called, to tickets of candles and flowers, to celebrate a saint or a virgin at weddings, fifteenth years and funerals, to celebrate life, union and farewell at the moment in which the last goodbye is given, he mentioned Jorge Ballinas.

Despite the risk involved in being a rocket ship, the activity is poorly paid, some people, like Don Jorge, did not charge fixed fees for his service, because sometimes burning rockets for patron celebrations, meant honor and reverence towards the patron saints celebrated, in his municipality Socoltenago, and Venustiano Carranza to whom he was invited, for that reason he left the monetary interest aside.

The years that I was a rocketeer, I did not charge a fixed money to do it, I did it out of devotion to the saints and virgins, but there was no shortage of someone who put a bill in my shirt bag because I did not want to receive it, said Ballinas

Being a rocket maestro is a dangerous activity, due to the speed with which the fuses burn and with which the gunpowder explodes, for this reason, a carelessness when lighting the rockets can result in a fatal accident, Don Jorge is a witness of this, because approximately 4 years ago, a rocket exploded in his face, as a result of that accident he suffered several injuries to his face and lost his left eye.

Another of the considerable damage that rockets tend to suffer is hearing loss, due to the constant explosions to which they are subjected during the activity when lighting a rocket that does not reach a greater height.

Despite the mishap with the rocket, Don Jorge does not hold a grudge against the activity, as he pointed out that it is an accident that can happen to anyone, and that he is not the only one who has suffered during his years as a rocket ship.

If you are a rocketeer you must be alert, some explode before their time, at low altitude, and your ears are screaming, others almost thunder in your hand and burst your fingertips or the palm of your hand, but they are passable wounds , nothing serious, on several occasions it happened to me, and even injured I continued burning, said Don Jorge.

Constantine added that the tradition of burning rockets is still in force, the amount that is burned today is not even half of what was used in previous decades, since he remembers that during the celebrations of the Virgin of Candelaria and Santa Rosalía, about 5 thick burned.

Each thick is equivalent to 5 dozen, that is to say, during the tour around 300 rockets were burned, only in one day of celebration, at present the use of rockets still persists, only that their consumption has been reduced, for different reasons both of security, to avoid accidents such as that of Don Jorge, and social, due to the decrease in Catholic believers both in the municipal seat of Socoltenago and in their communities.


San Cristobal Post