A little more than ten years ago, David Egozi and Eugene Ramos fled their native Cuba to avoid jail after Fidel Castro's regime found them guilty of being "capitalistic." That charge was, and is, eminently justified.

Within months after their arrival in Miami, the two friends, barely able to speak English, decided to take their chances in the field they knew best: shoes. The dapper Egozi had been a top salesman for his father's shoe company, which Castro confiscated; Ramos had been a shoe manufacturer. The pair pooled $30,000 they had smuggled out...

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