Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez was born in Panama City on 1 July 1946. Moscoso's family came from the town of Pedasi, in the province of Los Santos. Her father was a teacher. She grew up and attended primary school in this small town. Her secondary education was completed at Maria Inmaculada Catholic School in Panama City. In 1964, she joined the presidential campaign of Arnulfo Arias, and two years later she became a sales manager for one of Arias's private companies. In 1968, at the age of 22, Moscoso worked as an assistant to President Arias and joined him in the United States when he was forced into exile after being deposed by a military coup. In 1969, she and Arias were married in Miami. Moscoso attended Miami Dade Community College where she obtained a degree in interior design in 1974. She lived with Arias until his death in 1988 and returned to Panama after the 1989 U.S. invasion. She has one son.