Reporter’s Notebook: Remembering the 2010 Haiti earthquake

Digital Originals

Nitza Soledad Perez, reporting on the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

It’s been nine years since my deployment to cover the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake in January of 2010. At that time, I was a correspondent for a Latin American Spanish news network.

Up to and since then, I have never witnessed devastation comparable to that. Nine years later, looking at the pictures I took while reporting, tears fill my eyes. They’re falling as I write this post.

My memories of this day also include many tears. Everywhere I looked, I couldn’t escape it, the smell of death infused in my clothing, my being, and my soul.

How could something like this happen? My faith crumbled at the sight of all the structures felled by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, and with them 250,000 lives. So many people died. Why?

We had to document what we were seeing, corpses still waiting to be recovered from the streets. We stopped in front of one of them.

She was probably in her 30s. Her femur was completely exposed, most likely the wound that killed her. My videographer, driver and I just stared. We were silent for a long time.


There were no words to say, just an immense sadness to process and absorb.

As we stood there, we also heard the crying and running small children, a sign of things to come.

Close to 1 million children lost one or both parents after the earthquake.


More than $16 billion in foreign aid was allocated by international agencies and donors through 2020. A United Nations report found that of that amount, $9.5 billion has been disbursed, equal to three times the revenue of the Haitian government from 2010-2012.

And what is happening in Haiti now? Corruption remains rampant, healthcare is a privilege, and its infrastructure is as fragile as its economy.


Haiti is currently the poorest nation of the Americas, and among the poorest in the world.

After the earthquake, many Haitians came to the United States, the majority of them to Little Haiti in Miami, Florida, where I live.

The U.S. government had granted Haitians temporary protected status, meaning they could stay legally and obtain work permits. But the Trump administration cancelled the program a year ago. Though a judge blocked the White House measure for now, their future in the U.S. is uncertain.


And sadly, disasters continue to plague Haiti. After the earthquake, came the cholera epidemic, and many hurricanes.

What’s most surprising is that people remain hopeful. Just listen to them.

Nitza Soledad Perez is a CGTN America Correspondent.
Follow Nitza Soledad Perez on Twitter @NitzaSoledad