You title an article “Mexico’s Fireworks Capital” and you think I won’t read the hell out of it, you don’t know me. You don’t know me at all.
Two firemen lean against their truck at the edge of the plaza. One of them, Mario Noriega Varela, says it’s their busiest night of the year, with 300 to 500 injuries, but they enjoy it. For a public safety professional, Mario is remarkably relaxed about the whole affair. “Come back in a little while,” he tells me, “and photograph the wounded.”
Despite its inherent dangers, the business of fireworks is indispensable to the economy of Tultepec. Roughly 80 percent of the population is involved with fireworks production. Tultepec’s fireworks are sold across Mexico and Latin America, with the peak season stretching from Dia de Los Muertos in November through New Year’s. Sales to the U.S. are relatively limited, largely due to strict import regulations and the overwhelming dominance of the Chinese fireworks industry, which supplies, by some estimates, 99 percent of the U.S. consumer market. But many in Tultepec would like to change that.