The Mexican mother of a soldier found dead at Fort Hood in Texas is planning to come to the U.S. and await the outcome of an investigation on her daughter's death, according to the family.
Alejandra Ruiz Zarco expects to obtain Friday a three-month humanitarian visa to travel from Tacámbaro, in the Mexican state of Michoacán, to the Army military facility where Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz was found dead on March 13, the family told Noticias Telemundo.
Fort Hood authorities have said there was no indication of foul play, but that they are conducting an investigation that will examine allegations made by her mother and friends to Noticias Telemundo that she was being sexually harassed.
At a press conference on March 17, Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, Fort Hood’s commander, stated that the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), “doesn’t want to assume anything or rule anything out about her investigation.”
Fort Hood also is the location of the 2020 murder of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who had complained of sexual harassment by a supervisor, Spc. Aaron Robinson, who killed himself as police moved in to arrest him as Guillen's suspected killer.
On an 8-0 vote Thursday, a Texas state House committee advanced a bill that would designate Sept. 30 as Vanessa Guillen Day. The vote followed testimony from several witnesses who spoke of their own experiences with sexual harassment and assault or work with people and military personnel and veterans who have experienced it.
Guillen’s sister, Mayra Guillen, was among those who testified and said the legislation is a “simple way to show both respect, honor for her memory, something that didn’t show when she was alive and serving.” Larissa Moran-Martinez, executive director of Circle of Arms, a mental health awareness group, said the death of Basaldua shows there is still need for change and reform. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Josey Garcia, is a San Antonio Democrat and a veteran.
Fort Hood "ready to receive" the family
Ruiz Zarco said that the cost of travel for her and her daughter Natalie, 19, who is a U.S. citizen, will be paid by the Army.
Basaldua, 20, was born and raised in Tacámbaro before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Her father, Ubalde "Baldo" Basaldua, lives in Long Beach, California.
It was unclear Thursday when they will travel to the U.S., but the family is scheduled to pay a visit to Fort Hood. “We are prepared to receive them and accompany them during their visit,” Bernabe said last week.
Basaldua was a combat engineer who served 15 months with the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood. She enlisted in the Army in July 2021 and was assigned to the base in December.
Two friends of the deceased soldier told Noticias Telemundo that Basaldua had told them she had been sexually harassed; according to one friend, after Basaldua reported harassment by a sergeant to her superiors, she was transferred to a different platoon, but the sergeant didn't receive any punishment.
From Mexico, Ruiz Zarco recalled the moment she received the news of her daughter’s death. “A person spoke to me, a sergeant. He was with Ana’s father. He told me that he was speaking to me to express his condolences for the death of the soldier Ana Fernanda Basaldua. I told him, 'I don’t want to hear this, I don’t want to hear it' and I hung up on him," she said.
According to Ruiz Zarco, during their last conversation, Basaldua told her that she no longer wanted to be at the military base.
“She told me that she wanted to see me, that she wanted to hug me, and she wanted me to hug her a lot, like when she was little," she said.
Basaldua was scheduled to complete her Army service commitment in August.