|CPAM 1610 AM was torched following calls by the radio hosts for a criminal trial for Jean-Claude Duvalier, who returned last year to the country he terrorized for decades. (PASCAL GIRARD/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL -- A Haitian radio station here was hit by arsonists on the weekend after hosts criticized the country's former dictator.
CPAM 1610 AM was torched following calls by the radio hosts for a criminal trial for Jean-Claude Duvalier, who returned last year to the country he terrorized for decades.
CPAM's north-end administrative offices were partially destroyed on Sunday and the studio suffered water damage, rendering it useless.
But the operators wouldn't be intimidated and were back on the air 10 hours after the attack.
"The culprit has disturbed our routine, but he can't disrupt our ideas," station manager Jean-Ernest Pierre told listeners Monday morning from a temporary studio.
CPAM is a beacon for the 100,000 Haitian expatriates in Montreal who form the largest such community in Canada.
Many fled the Duvalier regime led by Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who ruled from 1957 to 1971, and his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc," who ran Haiti from 1971 to 1986 as "president for life."
The younger Duvalier strengthened the infamous Tonton Macoute, a secret police force that included members who tortured and killed tens of thousands of opponents and innocent bystanders.
Duvalier, now 60, made a surprise return to Haiti in January 2011 and will face trial for corruption but not for murders, disappearances, torture and other rights abuses.
Pierre told QMI Agency a fellow broadcaster made his studios available to CPAM during the rebuilding process.
He has spent the past two days reassuring listeners and appealing for calm.
Hosts and loyal listeners were shocked at the arson attack.
"People have continued to stream in to see the debris," Pierre said. "It's like a funeral."
After seeing the damage, one listener said she couldn't believe her eyes.
"For me, it's like an earthquake," Asma Heurtelou said, referring to the natural disaster that devastated her homeland in January 2010.
No arrests have been made and police have no suspects.
The station manager said CPAM will continue to offer music and talk - including critical talk - despite the attack.
"We're discouraged, but not for long."