(Houston) A powerful rights group for the Latino community in the United States called on Friday for an investigation into the death of a Mexican-American serviceman who was allegedly sexually harassed on an army base where a death similar had already been reported.
20-year-old Ana Basaldua Ruiz was found dead on March 13 in the barracks of Fort Hood, a major military base in Texas where she served, according to a press release from the base.
” We are […] concerned about reports from her family that their daughter has been the target of repeated sexual harassment,” said AnaLuisa Tapia, local leader of the League of United Latin American Citizens (Lulac).
The organization “demands an immediate, full and transparent investigation into these allegations. Investigations must begin immediately,” insisted M.me Tapia during a press conference in front of the base of Fort Hood, near the city of Austin.
And this investigation must be carried out by “an external authority” and not by the army, she insisted.
The young woman’s mother, Alejandra Ruiz, told Telemundo television that her daughter had told her that “a sergeant was harassing her”. She added that she had been officially told that her daughter “hung herself”, but that she did not believe it.
A naturalized American, Ana Basaldua Ruiz lived with her father in the city of Long Beach, California, before enlisting.
In a second statement released on Thursday, the base’s press office said that “no criminal act was evident”, but that the investigators would seek to know what “exactly happened” and that “the information related to possible harassment will be fully investigated”.
This death comes on the same military base where, in April 2020, a 20-year-old soldier, also Mexican-American, Vanessa Guillen, was killed after denouncing acts of sexual harassment. His dismembered body was finally discovered two months later near the base.
A dozen officers were sacked after his death and demonstrations took place to demand an end to impunity for sex crimes committed in the army.
US President Joe Biden signed a decree in January 2022 reforming military justice to make sexual violence in the army a crime and no longer just an offense, after years of unsuccessful attempts by the Pentagon to fight against this scourge.