FORT HOOD, Texas (KXAN) — The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) held a press conference Friday morning outside of Fort Hood, where they called for a “top-down” investigation by the Pentagon and the FBI into the death of U.S. Army private Ana Basalduaruiz.
Army Criminal Investigation Division officials said in a press release Thursday that “no foul play” was evident, and that Basalduaruiz’s death remains under investigation.
LULAC Communications Director David Cruz said at the press conference that the group was not there to attack the U.S. Army, but to advocate for the safety of soldiers so they can best serve the nation.
“For the Army to say ‘no foul play’ would also indicate a tone deafness to the concerns of the father and the mother of Ana Basalduaruiz, who stated that she had been the target of alleged sexual harassment, repeated and consistent sexual harassment, by other service members, up to an including an immediate superior to whom she reported,” Cruz said. “LULAC wants those facts, looked into those statements reviewed the parties who were involved, allegedly spoken to, and we wanted done by an outside entity.”
LULAC drew a comparison between the reported sexual harassment of Basalduaruiz and the 2020 death of Vanessa Guillen, another Latina soldier at Fort Hood who reported sexual harassment.
Guillen’s death prompted legislative action with the #IAmVanessaGuillen Act, which requires the military to turn over sexual assault and misconduct allegations to investigators outside the soldier’s chain of command.
“When LULAC last stood here, we supported the mother of Vanessa Guillen, and she said ‘If we cannot ensure the safety of men and women, our sons and daughters and our loved ones, we cannot send them into the army,” Cruz said. “LULAC has not changed its position. The safety of our servicemembers is a requirement within the ranks, if they continue to want to recruit our young men and women, our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives and our loved ones.”
LULAC National Sgt. at Arms AnaLuisa Carrillo-Tapia also spoke at the press conference. She called on the Army to protect the wellbeing of soldiers to ensure that they remain “mission-ready.”
“Anything that hinders them from being mission ready is a danger to our nation,” Carrillo-Tapia said. “Our servicemembers are one of our biggest and most valuable treasures, and anything that harms them harms us.”