Who was Ana Basaldua Ruiz? Another Latina soldier found dead at Fort Hood amid sexual harassment questions
No foul play was initially suspected in the death of the 20-year-old private, but she reportedly told her family of the harassment before dying.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
On Monday, March 13, 20-year-old Private Ana Basaldua Ruiz was found dead at Fort Hood, the massive army base in Central Texas, and it’s a situation that is eerily similar to one that played out two years ago when then-Private Vanessa Guillén went missing for almost two months between April and June 2022.
Guillén’s partial remains were found along the nearby León River by contractors working on a fence on June 20, 2020. Like Basaldua Ruiz, she was also 20-years-old, and had told her family before going missing that she was being sexually harassed by an unnamed sergeant at the base and could do nothing to stop the treatment.
While Basaldua Ruiz did not go missing, it has been reported by both her friends and mother — who spoke to Noticias Telemundo — that she did tell them of being sexually harassed before her death.
Despite the reports, officials at Fort Hood have said there is no foul play suspected in Basaldua Ruiz’s death, but the Army Department of Criminal Investigations (CID) said in a released statement that it would “conduct a thorough investigation and gather all evidence and facts to ensure they discover exactly what transpired.”
"Information related to any possible harassment will be addressed and investigated fully," the statement continued.
Outside of the army, organizations the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the American GI Forum have called for independent investigations into Basaldua Ruiz’s death.
LULAC’s Domingo Garcia also drew the comparison to Guillén’s case, which the organization also organized heavily around.
“The comments the mother made were eerily similar to Vanessa Guillén’s mother’s comments,” Garcia said, as quoted by NBC News.
Per the NBC News report, Basaldua Ruiz spent some years when she was growing up in the small community of Tacámbaro in Michoacán with her mother’s family.
Beyond the time spent in Mexico, NBC News reported that Basaldua Ruiz was “reader from age five who loved to dance and loved music a lot. Her favorite books were any by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho, and music-wise, Basaldua Ruiz favored Selena Gomez.
Her journey to the military was a positive one, with Basaldua Ruiz looking forward to the structure it would provide and the opportunity to travel the world.
Upon the news of her death, Basaldua Ruiz’s mother, Alejandra Ruiz Zarco, was reported to have received a three-month humanitarian visa to enter the U.S. from Mexico and find answers about her daughter’s fate.
She told Noticias Telemundo that in her last conversation with her daughter, Basaldua Ruiz told her she didn’t want to be at Fort Hood anymore. A GoFundMe has since been organized by Itzi Ortega, a relative of Basaldua Ruiz to fund the family’s funeral costs.
In response to the news about Basaldua Ruiz’s death, the family of Guillén offered their support for her family as it goes through a similar process they did nearly three years ago.
While the pressure applied by Guillén’s family got the attention of President Donald Trump, forced legislation to combat sexual harassment and abuse in the military, and got 14 Fort Hood base leaders removed, Basaldua Ruiz’s death shows that there’s likely way more work to be done.
“I hope that people remember, first and foremost, the fact that this happened yet once again after three long years,” Mayra, Guillén's sister, told KENS 5. “And how it is still persistent. In cases like these, it should still pick up a lot of interest because what leads a person to go to the extent of not wanting to live anymore? What was the pressure? What was the issue?”