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
Also known asOTI
GenreSong contest
Created byMarcel Bezençon
Based onEurovision Song Contest
Developed byIberoamerican Television Organisation
Country of originList of countries
Original language(s)Spanish and Portuguese
No. of episodes28 contests
Production location(s)Hosted by previous winner from 1972 to 1981 (List of host cities)
Production company(s)Organización 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 a 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.

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 (for instance United States of America), 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.

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 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.

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 presenters

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 Univisión
1991 Acapulco Centro de Convenciones Raúl Velasco Televisa
1992 Valencia Teatro Principal Paloma San Basilio and Joaquín Prat RTVE
1993 Valencia Teatro Principal Paloma San Basilio and Francisco RTVE
1994 Valencia Teatro Principal Ana Obregón and Francisco RTVE
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 system

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 loger 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.


Year Country Song Performer
1972 BrazilDiálogoClaudia Regina & Tobías
1973 MexicoQué alegre va MaríaImelda Miller
1974 Puerto RicoHoy canto por cantarNydia Caro
1975 MexicoLa felicidadGualberto Castro
1976 SpainCanta, cigarraMaría Ostiz
1977 NicaraguaQuincho BarrileteGuayo González
1978 BrazilEl amor... cosa tan raraDenise de Kalafe
1979 ArgentinaCuenta conmigoDaniel Riolobos
1980 Puerto RicoContigo, mujerRafael José
1981 SpainLatinoFrancisco
1982 VenezuelaPuedes contar conmigoGrupo Unicornio
1983 BrazilEstrela de papelJessé
1984 ChileAgualunaFernando Ubiergo
1985 MexicoEl fandango aquíEugenia León
1986 United StatesTodosDamaris, Miguel Ángel Guerra & Eduardo Fabiani
1987 VenezuelaLa felicidad está en un rincón de tu corazónAlfredo Alejandro
1988 ArgentinaTodavía eres mi mujerGuillermo Guido
1989 MexicoUna canción no es suficienteAnalí
1990 MexicoUn boleroCarlos Cuevas
1991 ArgentinaAdónde estás ahoraClaudia Brant
1992 SpainA dónde voy sin tiFrancisco
1993 SpainEnamorarseAna Reverte
1994 ArgentinaCanción desparejaClaudia Carenzio
1995 SpainEres mi debilidadMarcos Llunas
1996 SpainMis manosAnabel Russ
1997 MexicoSe diga lo que se digaIridian
1998 ChileFin de siglo: Es tiempo de inflamarse, deprimirse o transformarseFlorcita Motuda
2000 United StatesMala hierbaChirino Sisters

By country

Wins Country Years
6  Spain1976, 1981, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996
 Mexico1973, 1975, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1997
4 Argentina1979, 1988, 1991, 1994
3 Brazil1972, 1978, 1983
2  United States1986, 2000
 Puerto Rico1974, 1980
 Chile1984, 1998
 Venezuela1982, 1987
1 Nicaragua1977


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 attempts

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. 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. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  6. "Regresa Festival OTI, será Puerto Peñasco sede oficial". mail.termometroenlinea.com.mx. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
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