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A Senegalese migrant watches for police, who make frequent raids on street vendors, Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 15, 2018 (Photo by Walker Dawson).

Against the Odds, African Migrants Put Down Roots in South America

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018

SAO PAULO—One day last May, fishermen working off the coast of Maranhao, a state in northwestern Brazil, came to the rescue of a rough-looking catamaran with a busted mast and a nonfunctioning motor. After towing the boat to safety, they realized it was carrying an unlikely group of passengers: 25 men from sub-Saharan Africa who said they’d been at sea for over a month.

The men had boarded the vessel on the other side of the Atlantic, in the island nation of Cape Verde, paying hundreds of dollars apiece for their spots. Some of them later said they could see immediately that the boat was too small, but they decided to get on anyway. Worse still, after the food they brought ran out, the men were forced to make do with a paltry supply of biscuits and whatever fish they could catch. With no cover from the hot sun, some resorted to drinking urine after their water reserves were exhausted. ...

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