OTI Festival

OTI Festival (Spanish: Festival OTI de la Canción) was an annual singing competition, held between 1972 and 2000 among active member countries of the Organización de Televisión Iberoamericana (OTI) (English: Iberoamerican Television Organisation).[1] It was preceded in 1969 and 1970 by the Festival Mundial de la Canción Latina, held in Mexico.

OTI Song Contest
OTI logo.png
Also known asOTI
GenreSong contest
Created byMarcel Bezençon
Based onEurovision Song Contest
Developed byIberoamerican Television Organisation
Country of originList of countries
Original languageSpanish and Portuguese
No. of episodes28 contests
Production locationHosted by previous winner from 1972 to 1981 (List of host cities)
Production companyOrganización de Televisión Iberoamericana
Original releaseNovember 25, 1972 (1972-11-25) –
May 20, 2000 (2000-05-20)
Preceded byFestival Mundial de la Canción Latina (1969–1970)
External links
[www.otitelecom.org Website]

The festival was an Ibero-American spin-off of the Eurovision Song Contest. The first show was held in the Congress Palace of Madrid on November 25, 1972 and the last one was held on May 20, 2000 in Acapulco. Since then, the show was cancelled due to the questioning of the voting system of the last shows, the lack of sponsors, the low quality of the entrants and the withdrawal of some of the most iconic countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Spain.

The main goal of the festival was to generate a process of cultural and artistic fellowship between the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. Although it was not as successful as the Eurovision Song Contest, the festival left a great mark in Latin America by giving many famous artists and hit songs.

The OTI festival is to date, the longest running and most successful Eurovision Song Contest spin off with 28 editions.


Although the OTI contest was inspired in the Eurovision Song Contest, the festival was preceded by the Festival Mundial de la Canción Latina (English: Worldwide Latin Song Contest) which was held in Mexico DF in 1969 and 1970.


The countries that were eligible to participate in the OTI festival needed to be active members of the Iberoamerican Television Organisation. The active members were those ones which belonged to the Organisation of Iberoamerican States. All songs are accompanied on stage by a symphony orchestra.

In order to take part in the event, the participating countries were required to be Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries, to have large communities of Spanish or Portuguese speakers within their territory such as the United States, or to have lingual or cultural ties with Latin American countries (As happened with the Dutch Antilles). Apart from that, the entrant song needed to be performed in Spanish or Portuguese languages.

Map of the OTI Festival participating countries by debut year

Both state financed and private broadcasters were able to join OTI as full members and in some cases different broadcasters collaborated during the airing of the event as did the Venezuelan broadcasters Venevision and RCTV.

Years Country making its debut entry
1972   Spain,   Colombia,   Brazil,   Venezuela,   Panamá,   Portugal,   Bolivia,   Chile,   Perú,   Dominican Republic,   Puerto Rico,  Argentina,   Uruguay.
1973   Mexico
1974   Dutch Antilles,   Ecuador,   El Salvador,   United States,   Guatemala,   Honduras,  Nicaragua.
1976   Costa Rica
1978   Paraguay
1986   Canada
1989   Aruba
1991   Cuba
1992   Equatorial Guinea


The OTI Song Contest was held for first time on November 25, 1972 in the Congress Palace of Madrid. 13 countries took part in the first edition of the event. Spain, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Panamá, Portugal, Bolivia, Chile, Perú, Uruguay, Argentina, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico were the debuting countries.[2]

After the first show, the rest of the Latin American countries progressively started taking part in the event. The festival expanded even further away from the traditional Latin American sphere, to the point that even the United States of America and the Dutch Antilles took part in the event. In 1992 the festival reached its record of 25 participating countries.

Mexico and Spain were the most successful countries in the history of the competition with 6 victories each while Argentina won the contest 4 times. Brazil was the third most successful country with three victories.


The Congress Palace of Madrid was the first venue of the OTI Song Contest.

The location of the festival was decided following various criteria. At first it was decided that the winning country would organise and celebrate the contest the next year, but after the victory of Nicaragua in 1977, the country could not host the contest due to the bloody civil war that broke out the next year. In those years, many Latin American countries suffered from political and economical instability. For that reason, from that year on, the host city was decided by an annual draw organised by the Iberoamerican Television Organisation.

The National Auditorium of Mexico was the host place of the OTI festival in 1984

Spain and Mexico were the countries that hosted the contest more times with 6 editions each one. In total, 13 countries of the 25 that participated in the song contest hosted the festival.

Venues and presentersEdit

Year City Venue Mistress and Masters of Ceremonies Host broadcaster
1972   Madrid Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones Rosa María Mateo and Raúl Matas RTVE
1973   Belo Horizonte Palácio das Artes Walter Forster and Iris Lettieri Rede Tupi
1974   Acapulco Teatro Juan Ruiz de Alarcón Lolita Ayala and Raúl Velasco Televisa
1975   San Juan Telemundo Studio 2 Marisol Malaret and Beba Franco Telemundo
1976   Acapulco Teatro Juan Ruiz de Alarcón Susana Dosamantes and Raúl Velasco Televisa
1977   Madrid Centro Cultural de Villa Madrid Mari Cruz Soriano and Miguel de los Santos RTVE
1978   Santiago de Chile Teatro Municipal Raquel Argandoña and Raúl Matas Canal 13, Canal 9 and TVN
1979   Caracas Teatro del Círculo Militar Eduardo Serrano and Carmen Victoria Pérez Venevisión and RCTV
1980   Buenos Aires Teatro General San Martín Liliana López Foresi and Antonio Carrizo Canal 7 ATC
1981   Mexico City Auditorio Nacional Raúl Velasco Televisa
1982   Lima Coliseo Amauta Humberto Martínez Morosini, Zenaida Solís, Pepe Ludmir and Silvia Maccera Panamericana Televisión
1983   Washington, D.C. DAR Constitution Hall Ana Carlota and Rafael Pineda SIN
1984   México City Auditorio Nacional Raúl Velasco Televisa
1985   Sevilla Teatro Lope de Vega Paloma San Basilio and Emilio Aragón RTVE
1986   Santiago de Chile Teatro Municipal Pamela Hodar and César Antonio Santis Canal 13 and TVN
1987   Lisbon Teatro São Luís Ana Maria Zanatti and Eládio Clímaco RTP
1988   Buenos Aires Cervantes Theatre Pinky and Juan Alberto Badía Canal 7 ATC and Canal 13 Artear
1989   Miami Knight International Center Don Francisco, Lucy Pereda and Antonio Vodanovic Univisión
1990   Las Vegas Caesars Palace Emmanuel and María Conchita Alonso
1991   Acapulco Centro de Convenciones Raúl Velasco Televisa
1992   Valencia Teatro Principal Paloma San Basilio and Joaquín Prat RTVE
1993 Paloma San Basilio and Francisco
1994 Ana Obregón and Francisco
1995   San Bernardino Teatro José Asunción Flores Menchi Barriocanal and Rubén Rodríguez Canal 13
1996   Quito Teatro Nacional de la Casa de la Cultura Christian Jhonson and Ximena Aulestia Ecuavisa, Teleamazonas and Gamavisión
1997   Lima Plaza Mayor Jorge Belevan and Claudia Doig América Televisión
1998   San José Teatro Nacional Maribel Guardia and Rafael Rojas Repretel and Teletica
1999   Veracruz The festival was cancelled due to floods in the host city.
2000   Acapulco Centro de Convenciones Emmanuel, Andrea Legarreta, Gabriela Spanic and Otto Sirgo Televisa

Voting systemEdit

The voting system to decide the winner of the contest changed over the years. At first, the winner was decided telephonically by five national juries from every participating country. Each jury member voted only for their favourite song and the winner was the song which had more points at the end of the process. In 1977 the number of national jurors per country was changed to three due to the increase of the number of participating countries and to the resultingly much longer show.

From 1982 on, the winner was decided by a professional room jury composed by famous music personalities. One year later, the voting system was changed again in a way that the voting process was secret. Since that year, only the three most voted countries were revealed at the end of the show which often generated scandals and controversies.


The Spanish singer Francisco won the event in 1981 and 1992.
Year Country Song Performer
1972   Brazil Diálogo Claudia Regina & Tobías
1973   Mexico Qué alegre va María Imelda Miller
1974   Puerto Rico Hoy canto por cantar Nydia Caro
1975   Mexico La felicidad (Happiness) Gualberto Castro
1976   Spain Canta, cigarra (Sing, cicada) María Ostiz
1977   Nicaragua Quincho Barrilete Guayo González
1978   Brazil El amor... cosa tan rara (Love... what a rare thing) Denise de Kalafe
1979   Argentina Cuenta conmigo Daniel Riolobos
1980   Puerto Rico Contigo, mujer (with you, woman) Rafael José
1981   Spain Latino Francisco
1982   Venezuela Puedes contar conmigo Grupo Unicornio
1983   Brazil Estrela de papel Jessé
1984   Chile Agualuna Fernando Ubiergo
1985   Mexico El fandango aquí Eugenia León
1986   United States Todos (All of us) Damaris, Miguel Ángel Guerra & Eduardo Fabiani
1987   Venezuela La felicidad está en un rincón de tu corazón Alfredo Alejandro
1988   Argentina Todavía eres mi mujer Guillermo Guido
1989   Mexico Una canción no es suficiente (A song is not enough) Analy
1990 Un bolero Carlos Cuevas
1991   Argentina Adónde estás ahora Claudia Brant
1992   Spain A dónde voy sin ti Francisco
1993 Enamorarse Ana Reverte
1994   Argentina Canción despareja Claudia Carenzio
1995   Spain Eres mi debilidad Marcos Llunas
1996 Mis manos Anabel Russ
1997   Mexico Se diga lo que se diga Iridian
1998   Chile Fin de siglo: Es tiempo de inflamarse, deprimirse o transformarse Florcita Motuda
2000   United States Mala hierba Chirino Sisters

By countryEdit

Map of the OTI Song Contest participating countries by number of victories
Wins Country Years
6   Spain 1976, 1981, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996
  Mexico 1973, 1975, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1997
4   Argentina 1979, 1988, 1991, 1994
3   Brazil 1972, 1978, 1983
2   United States 1986, 2000
  Puerto Rico 1974, 1980
  Chile 1984, 1998
  Venezuela 1982, 1987
1   Nicaragua 1977


Although the OTI Song Contest has not been celebrated since 2000, the festival is still widely remembered in many countries, specially in Mexico, where the festival was always well received by the audience, even when the popularity of the festival was declining.[3]

The contest was enormously popular in Mexico thanks to the "National OTI contest", which was the national final to select the Mexican entrant for the international, and main OTI Contest. Many famous singers such as Juan Gabriel, Luis Miguel, Lucero, or the girl band Pandora, tried to represent their country in the OTI festival, but they didn't win the national contest.

In Spain, many popular names took part in the OTI Contest including the band Trigo Limpio, that represented the country in 1977 with the Song "Rómpeme, mátame" (English: Break Me, Kill Me) before representing Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1980. Many Years later in 1995 Marcos Llunas won the contest two years before representing Spain in Eurovision in 1997. Other popular Spanish OTI contestants are Marisol, and Camilo Sesto.

At least one Eurovision winner has participated in the OTI: Dave Benton, who sang for Netherlands Antilles in 1981, later won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2001 for Estonia, performing the song "Everybody" with Tanel Padar and 2XL.

Return attemptsEdit

As the mark of the OTI Festival in Latin America is still big, some organisations of diverse nature have tried to revive the festival. Some Mexican artists also made public their support to a return to the screens of the OTI Festival.

In March 2011, it was announced by some online newspapers that Televisa, the national Mexican TV channel was preparing for the relaunch of the event in two stages, the first one, was to revive the "National OTI Contest", the Mexican national final, while the second one would be to revive the international and main OTI Festival. The aim of this attempt to bring to life the festival was to give the opportunity to young performers to show their talent. The festival at the end never took place, but it was neither cancelled.[4]

In June 2016, it was announced the relaunch of OTI as a media organisation. The broadcasting union was renamed as "Organización de Telecomunicaciones de Iberoamerica" (Iberoamerican Telecommunications Organisation) the organisation evolved from being a television contents exchange platform to include members of a broader nature such as newspapers and telephone-internet companies apart from TV and radio channels. This relaunch instantaneously sparked rumors about a possible relaunch of the festival that were later denied.[5]

In 2017 it was announced the start of an organisation called "Organización de Talento Independiente" (Independent Talent Organisation) which in Spanish casually coincides with the acronym "OTI". The main goal of the organisation was to try to recreate the festival between Mexican singers and artists from the Latin community of USA. Although the festival was not a competition between broadcasters of different participating countries, the competition was held in the Mexican city of Puerto Peñasco in the Sonora State.[6]


  1. ^ "Festival de la OTI" (in Spanish). El Diario de Coahuila. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  2. ^ eurovision-spain.com. "Especial La OTI: El festival de la canción iberoamericana que nació y quiso ser como Eurovisión". www.eurovision-spain.com. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  3. ^ "¿Quién se acuerda del festival de la canción OTI?".
  4. ^ "Anuncian regreso del Festival OTI - La Razón". La Razón (in Spanish). 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  5. ^ "Festival OTI: Return To Screens as Close as it Has Been in Years - Eurovoix World". Eurovoix World. 2016-06-28. Archived from the original on 2018-08-20. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  6. ^ "Regresa Festival OTI, será Puerto Peñasco sede oficial". mail.termometroenlinea.com.mx. Retrieved 2017-12-17.

External linksEdit