May 7, 1989 |
They come at night, braving the treacherous strait in leaky 20-foot fishing boats called pateras . Paying up to $1,700 for the nine-mile illegal crossing to Europe's southernmost tip, many Moroccans ante up their life savings, gambling on a brighter future in a land rich beyond their dreams. Occasionally, winds and currents in the Strait of Gibraltar swamp the overloaded boats, tipping their human cargoes into the sea and almost-certain death. Occasionally, the Moroccans are caught by Spanish authorities and returned.