Fidelia Castellanos, Presente! IDWF bids farewell to Latin American Unionist

The International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) deeply regrets receiving the news of the passing of Fidelia Castellanos, the General Secretary of the Guatemalan Union of Domestic, Auxiliary and Self-Employed Workers (SITRADOMSA), after a long battle with a serious illness. Our deepest condolences go to her family and her sisters in the struggle.

Fidelia Castellanos was born in 1962, into a rural family of Mayan origin. She dreamed of being a nurse or a teacher, but she had to drop out at the age of nine to dedicate herself to domestic work and help her family. Since then, she has suffered a series of abuse, ill-treatment, acts of discrimination, violence and harassment. Forced to marry at just fifteen, she became a single mother soon after. She had six children, whom she supported by endless workdays, even under conditions of modern slavery, in exchange for food scraps.

In 2011, she founded the first union for domestic workers in her country. “I didn’t want them to suffer what I had suffered,” Fidelia said. In Guatemala, there are more than 270,000 domestic workers, 60% of whom are indigenous women who perform their tasks without any legal protection and in extremely precarious conditions. Mayan domestic workers, mostly internal migrants and minors, are the most discriminated against, abused, and are the worst paid.

It is with great pain that we bid farewell to this great Latin American leader who has dedicated more than a decade to fighting for the rights of domestic workers and indigenous women, as well as against child labor and all forms of violence. She leaves this world without meeting her goal of seeing C189 ratified in Guatemala, but she leaves a powerful legacy for future generations, who will surely achieve it.

Fidelia Castellanos will forever be in our hearts, inspiring us with her warrior spirit, her unmatched resilience, and her eternal smile. Rest in peace and power, sister-unionist!

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