Presidio’s Consulate of Mexico hosts Women’s History Month programming

Adrian Flores of the Presidio Volunteer Fire Department led a community bike ride from the Consulate of Mexico on Saturday. Staff photo by Sam Karas.

PRESIDIO — With Women’s History Month in full swing, the Consulate of Mexico in Presidio has launched a host of programming aimed at empowering Mexican and Mexican American women. This past weekend, the consulate hosted a family bike ride aimed at providing a fun way to learn about consular services as well as the opening of an art exhibit showcasing paintings by female artists. 

Presidio’s branch of the Consulate of Mexico is just one of 52 locations around the country, making it the largest consular network within another country in the world. The Women’s History Month programming is part of new Head Consul Gamaliel Bustillos’ plans to make the small-but-mighty office a community hub instead of a strictly impersonal government office. 

Bustillos insisted that the consulate’s observance of Women’s History Month was one of commemoration, rather than the festive, celebratory rhetoric invoked by other organizations. In addition to recognizing women’s strengths and talents, he wanted to acknowledge the challenges still faced by women around the world. “It’s to fight for the equality of gender,” he explained. 

Last week, Bustillos and his colleagues made a visit to Presidio High School to address the female student body. Using materials from Mexico’s Secretaria de Educación Pública and the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, they lead a discussion about dating and gender-based violence to empower and educate the next generation of strong Presidio women. 

The presentation taught students the concept of the “Violentómetro,” a way of presenting the spectrum of domestic violence in an age-appropriate, easy-to-understand format. The Violentómetro has three phases — green, indicating behaviors that warrant caution; yellow, flagging a need for immediate intervention; and red, necessitating professional help. 

Lower-level destructive behaviors include gender-based jokes and taunts, social media harassment and public humiliation of romantic partners. The goal of the Violentómetro is to teach young women that behaviors that society normalizes as “boys being boys” can escalate to violent crimes like physical abuse, sexual assault and femicide. “Violence can quickly increase in relationships, and we encourage women to report any sign of violence against them,” Bustillos said. 

To balance some of the consulate’s more somber programming, the office hosted a celebration on Saturday of women’s artwork that included paintings by Diana Molina, Yosdy Valdivia and Zulema Acosta. A concurrent family bike ride encouraged locals young and old to visit the consulate — cyclists donned in purple, the official color of Women’s History Month, went for a cruise around Presidio as a colorful reminder of the month’s significance. 

Raising awareness of both the challenges and successes of Mexican women — and women around the world — was a meaningful project for Bustillos. “We are trying to remind the communities that we are immersed in that the consulate is interested in remarking the importance of women in our societies,” he said.