"May Vipassana spread to every land around the world. May all come out of suffering and enjoy real happiness, real peace, real harmony.”
For many years Vipassana courses were being held only in the United States and Canada but nowhere else on the rest of the American continent. While quite a few students from Latin America had taken courses with Mr. Goenka in India, and many more with Mr. Goenka and assistant teachers in countries in the West, no course had been organized in any Latin American country. When asked about this, Mr. Goenka’s response was always “Let the time ripen.”
The first course organized in Latin America was in September 1991 in Panama. However, because of a mix-up by the local authorities, the police came and took the assistant teacher and the students to the local jail for questioning and the course ended on Day 7. Even though the course ended prematurely, it was an important course as a number of students from the course later completed full ten-day courses and are now helping with organizing courses in Panama. Also, after seeing the announcement of this course in the Vipassana Newsletter, students from other countries in Latin America became interested in organizing courses in their own countries.
Finally, in March 1994, the first full ten-day Vipassana course was held in Venezuela. In addition to the students from Venezuela, Vipassana students from a number of other Latin American countries came to sit and serve on this course. With the successful completion of this course, it became obvious that the time had ripened for Dhamma to start spreading throughout Latin America. In October and November of this same year, courses were given in Brazil and Argentina and again in Venezuela. The next year, courses were given in Panama, Chile and Mexico, as well as Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. The first Vipassana course in Cuba was held in 1996, Bolivia in 1997, Colombia and Peru in 1998, Ecuador in 1999, Uruguay in 2001, Puerto Rico and Paraguay in 2003, the Dominican Republic in 2004, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica in 2006 and Guatemala in 2007, the nineteenth country now to host Vipassana courses. Many countries are now also having courses in more than one area of their country. Dhamma is indeed spreading throughout Latin America.
Argentina: Dhamma Sukhada, established in 2013 with a capacity for 80 students, is located in the outskirts of the town of Brandsen, 70km from the Federal Capital, in the province of Buenos Aires. The second center, Dhamma Viriya, is located 9 km from Capilla del Monte in the province of Cordoba. Established in 2017, the center conducts single gender courses. Courses are also conducted in the non-center location of Mendoza.
Brazil: The first center, Dhamma Santi, was established in 2003 on 33 hectares of land near Rio de Janeiro. The center has a capacity to serve 100 students per course. The second center Dhamma Sarana, was established in 2016, on196 hectares of land near Santana de Parnaíba, 45 kilometers from downtown São Paulo. Courses are also conducted at non-center locations in Planalto Central, Minas Gerais, Nordeste and Parana.
Mexico: Established in 2003, Dhamma Makaranda is located near Valle de Bravo, a beautiful colonial town beside a large lake, in the highlands of central Mexico. The center is west of Mexico City, and is a pleasant, 2 hour drive from the capital. Courses are also conducted at non-center locations in Monterrey and Morelos.
Venezuela: Dhamma Veṇuvana, the Vipassana center in Venezuela, is located in Estado Aragua with easy access for Venezuelan and Latinoamerican students. Courses are also conducted at a non-center location in Occidente.
In addition, courses are also held at non-center locations in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia (Bogota and Medellín),Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador (Cuenca and Quito), El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Uruguay. Surely, one day, there will be permanent Vipassana centers throughout Latin America, again bringing forth Mr. Goenka’s words of metta, “May Dhamma continue to spread for the good of all. May all beings everywhere be peaceful. May all beings be happy. May all beings be liberated.”