Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

The president of a Latino civil rights group is calling for young Latina women to refuse to join the military until the armed forces guarantee their safety from rape and sexual assault.

The announcement from League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) President Domingo Garcia comes after investigators found the body of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who vanished after reporting she had been sexually harassed by a fellow soldier.

“I think there’s a good ole boy network in the military,” Garcia said. “They cover up when someone allegedly gets raped.”

Guillen’s family said she told them she was being sexually harassed at Fort Hood in Texas. After she disappeared, her dismembered body was found in a shallow grave. The man Guillen accused in the case killed himself after police came to talk to him.

LULAC said it had been fighting for answers from Fort Hood for weeks after Guillen disappeared. Military leaders have said they found no evidence of sexual harassment or abuse against Guillen.

“Look, the military code book is deny and lie,” Garcia said.

NBC Bay Area spoke to the Pentagon on Saturday and requested a comment. While the Pentagon promised to respond, that response had not arrived as of Monday afternoon.

LULAC was founded by veterans, so Garcia said it pains him to call for a military enlistment boycott, but he said it’s necessary.

“If you have a young daughter who is thinking of enlisting in the Army, warning, they may not be protected even though they enlisted to protest and serve our country,” Garcia said. “The Army may not be protecting them predators within the Army.”

Stephanie Thomas served in the Army in the late 1980s. She said there was sort of a fratboy mentality then, especially since women are so outnumbered in the military.

But as a Latina, Thomas disagrees with LULAC.

“It’s not a good thing to just say, ‘Don’t join,’ and not focus on the problem that does occur in the military, especially of young women,” she said.

LULAC said it is meeting with the secretary of the Army on Friday. The agency said it will not back down from its call for a Latina military boycott until they get answers and people are held accountable.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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