A Panamanian by birth and by heart, Raúl is the grandson of Don Tomás Arias, one of the Founders of the Republic of Panama.

Raúl studied economics in St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia, and in the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, where he obtained an MS in 1970. His thesis director was Dr.Leland B. Yeager. Upon his return to Panamá, Raúl worked in the banking industry for 10 years. Motivated by the absence of freedom and human rights in the Panamá of that time, Raúl entered politics in 1983 and quickly reached the top echelons of the Christian Democratic Party, then the largest opposition party in the country. After the elections of 1984, the first presidential elections in 15 years, he became incensed by the fraud perpetrated by the government and wrote Así fue el Fraude (Anatomy of a Fraud), a detailed and well documented exposé. This book became the all-time best seller in Panamá, was translated to English and can be found in the Library of Congress and in Harvard University’s library.

Later Raúl served two terms in the National Assembly and was detained twice by the Noriega regime. After the fall of Noriega in 1990, he served the new government of Panamá as Financial Director of Public Security and was part of the team that dismantled what remained of Noriega’s Defense Forces, transforming military installations into hospitals and generals’ ill-gotten mansions into schools . Subsequently, the government of Panamá reformed the Constitution to prohibit the existence of armed forces. Panamá is now a country without an army as Costa Rica has been for many years. After leaving the public sector in 1991, he founded and succesfully managed several businesses (a brokerage firm, a public opinion polling company, and a real state development corporation).

In 1994, he entered the field of ecotourism motivated by his desire to conserve a waterfall close to his heart and located in el Valle de Antón, on lands owned for over 80 years by his family. Before Raúl hired some locals previously engaged in “slash and burn” agriculture as guides, installed a gate at the entrance of the trail to the waterfall, instituted an entrance fee, and started enforcing rules, the waterfall was being ruined by insensitive visitors. The waterfall and surrounding rainforest are now clean, peaceful, and a home to innumerable birds as well as other indigenous life forms including the golden toad. Thus, an ecotourism activity was born: an activity that does not deplete the natural resources it uses, and that promotes appreciation of nature.

You may read more about the waterfall and the Canopy Adventure — a truly thrilling cable ride through the canopy created in early 1995. The following year, he began to look for a place to build an ecolodge in the forests surrounding the Panama Canal and, in August of 1996, found the Semaphore Hill Radar Station which he later converted it into the Canopy Tower.

Raúl Arias de Para, founder of Canopy Family
Raúl Arias de Para
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Canopy Family | The Colors of the Canopy Tower

Stories of the Canopy Tower The Colors of the Canopy Tower by Raúl Arias de Para One of my favorite stories about the Canopy Tower is how I picked the colors with which

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Birdwatching with Raul Arias De Para

Birdwatching with Raul Arias de Para By Raul Arias de Para Businessman and Conservationist 28 June 1992  During the past five years or so, I have been dedicating a good part of my

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Ecotourism: An Instrument of Conservation by Raul Arias de Para

Ecotourism: An Instrument of Conservation by Raúl Arias de Para, 1994  Ecotourism, an activity seemingly in vogue nowadays, is much more than sporadic visits to regions of extraordinary natural beauty. By the same

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Ecotourism Facilities as a Reality: Canopy Adventure by Raul Arias de Para

Ecotourism Facilities as a Reality: Canopy Adventure Presentation of Raul Arias de Para, President, The Canopy Tower for Conservation Panama’s Panama Conservation and Ecotourism Workshop February 19, 1998. Good afternoon, I would like

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Canopy Family | The World and I: A Tower in the Treetops

The World and I: A Tower in the Treetops By Nancy Hanna. Published on The World & I, February 1999. A former U.S. military radar facility in the Panama Canal Zone is transformed

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Canopy Family | El Ecoturismo Como Actividad Empresarial por Raul Arias de Para

El Ecoturismo Como Actividad Empresarial Presentación en la Conferencia Regional Centroamericana para el Año Internacional del Ecoturismo Hotel Fort George Ciudad de Belice, Belice 26-28 de Noviembre, 2001 Presentación de Raúl Arias de

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Canopy Family | Cumbre Mundial del Ecoturismo

World Ecotourism Summit Presentation by Mr. Raúl Arias de Para Representative of Panama, Central America and Mexico Québec, Canada May 18, 2002 More than 10 years ago, when I started in this fascinating

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Canopy Family | The Canopy Tower: A Pilot Project of the TCR Alliance by Raul Arias de Para

The Canopy Tower A Pilot Project of the TCR Alliance TCR Strategic Alliance: Tourism, Conservation, Research International Conference on Heritage Tourism for the Next Millenium Hotel Miramar, Panamá, December 2, 1998 Raúl Arias

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Canopy Family | A Day at the Canopy Tower by Raul Arias de Para

A Day at the Canopy Tower Early Morning The day begins early in the Canopy Tower. Serious birders and wildlife afficionados are awakened before sunrise by the sounds of the great Panamanian rainforest.

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Canopy Family | Meet Raul Arias de Para

Meet Raúl Arias de Para A Panamanian by birth and by heart, Raúl is the grandson of Don Tomás Arias, one of the Founders of the Republic of Panama. Raúl studied economics in

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Canopy Family | The Isthmian: Raul’s Canopy Tower update

The Isthmian: Raúl’s Canopy Tower update By Raul Arias de Para Businessman and Conservationist published in The Isthmian December 1998 As you may recall, in the last article I mentioned that because the

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