For Haiti’s Michele Montas, trauma and determination

Michele Montas, the Haitian journalist and former spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, has experienced a harrowing time in aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. “Haiti appears to be on doomsday,” said Montas, who said she has been shaken by the number of dead and wounded on the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Her own home suffered only minor damage, Montas said, adding that that she intends to stay in Haiti for a prolonged period to help her country through the crisis.

How to help

The challenges are enormous, Montas said in an interview with CPJ. The smell of bodies decomposing under the rubble has filled the air, she said. Survivors are in distress, she noted, as they live in a context in which everything—hope and life itself—must be rebuilt. Haiti needs immense international solidarity and support to overcome the disaster, Montas said, describing, in a voice punctuated by anguish, a country she can no longer recognize.

Montas (AP)
Montas (AP)

Montas is the widow of the renowned Haitian journalist Jean Dominique, who had owned and directed the independent Radio Haïti Inter. Dominique was murdered outside the station in 2000 in a case that has gone unsolved. Although the station stopped operating in 2003, its offices in Delmas, north of the capital, had been preserved in memory of Dominique and other slain journalists. The Radio Haiti Inter offices were severely damaged by the earthquake, Montas told CPJ, noting that the ground floor is heavily tilted and now jeopardizes other parts of the building.

Jean Roland Chery is a former Haitian journalist now living in the United States. He is working with CPJ as a consultant for our relief efforts in response to the Haitian earthquake.

Editor’s Note: If you have any information on journalists and media outlets in Haiti please post a comment below or notify us via e-mail [email protected], or Twitter: @HelpJournalists. We are collecting funds that will go directly to Haitian journalists. If you’d like to make a contribution, please click this link and enter “Haiti” in the “Notes” section on the second page.