Zulema was born in 1961 in Tarabuco, state of Chuquisaca, Bolivia. She studied law and worked tirelessly as Advocate of the poor in the Superior Court of the Judicial District of Chuquisaca, Investigating Magistrate and President of the Assembly of Human Rights, Regional Yacuiba. Accompanied by her three children, she arrived in Buenos Aires in 2001 to meet her husband who was studying there. Zulema remembers that the first moments “were quite hard…things here were very bad and I wasn´t used to just doing house chores.”
Then she started to meet other migrant women and learn about their situation in Argentina. “The migrants’ reality was rather different at that time. There were many difficulties to access documentation and the existing Law of Migrant was retrograde. So, with several associations of migrants and Non-Governmental Organizations, we began to participate in public hearings to change the law.” For Zulema and other migrant women, the situation changed notably after the enactment of the Migration Law N0 25.871 in 2003.
In 2006, Zulema decided to create the Civil Association Yanapacuna, meaning “let´s help each other” in Quechua dialect, whose main purpose is to offer legal counseling to migrants. “We help them and talk about how they are and about the labor exploitation situations they face.”
Since 2014, IOM Argentina has supported the National Encounter of Immigrant Leaders in Argentina, which gathers migrant leaders from various Organizations to debate the advances and challenges of the national migration policy. Zulema was part of the Political Committee Organizer of the Second Encounter which took place in May this year in Córdoba. “In the second encounter, we decided to work on a specific issue every day. Political Rights of migrant men and women, the first day; Migration Law and Citizenship, the second day; and Bilateral and Multilateral Agreements in Argentina, the last day.”
“This Second Encounter has been successful since migrants throughout the country come together to debate their problems or rights and especially The National Law of Migrations N°25.871,which is still unknown by many migrants. This type of spaces encourages us to keep collaborating among our organizations and push for progress.”