OTI Festival

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OTI Festival
OTI logo.png
Also known asOTI Song Contest
SpanishFestival OTI de la Canción
PortugueseFestival OTI da Canção
GenreSong contest
Based onEurovision Song Contest
Developed byOrganización de Televisión Iberoamericana
Country of originList of countries
Original languagesSpanish and Portuguese
No. of episodes28 contests
Production locationsHosted 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)

OTI Festival (Spanish: Festival OTI de la Canción, Portuguese: Festival OTI da Canção), often known simply as La OTI, was an international song competition, organised annually between 1972 and 2000 by the Organización de Televisión Iberoamericana (OTI) (English: Iberoamerican Television Organisation), featuring participants representing primarily Ibero-American countries. Each participating OTI member broadcaster submitted an original song in Spanish or Portuguese to be performed on live television and transmitted to all OTI broadcasters via satellite.[1] It was preceded by the Festival Mundial de la Canción Latina, held in 1969 and 1970 in Mexico.

The festival was an Ibero-American spin-off of the Eurovision Song Contest. The first edition was held at the Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos auditorium in Madrid on November 25, 1972 and the last one was held on May 20, 2000 in Acapulco. Since then, it has been cancelled due to the questioning of the voting system of the latter contests, 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. 27 countries have participated at least once in the festival, with Chile, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela participating in all 28 editions.

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, it is its longest running and most successful spin-off to date, leaving a great mark in Latin America by giving many famous artists and hit songs.


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.


Map of the OTI Festival participating countries by debut year

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 Netherlands 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 Spain, Colombia Colombia, Brazil Brazil, Venezuela Venezuela, Panama Panamá, Portugal Portugal, Bolivia Bolivia, Chile Chile, Peru Perú, Dominican Republic Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico Puerto Rico, Argentina Argentina, Uruguay Uruguay
1973 Mexico Mexico
1974 Netherlands Antilles Netherlands Antilles, Ecuador Ecuador, El Salvador El Salvador, United States United States, Guatemala Guatemala, Honduras Honduras, Nicaragua Nicaragua
1976 Costa Rica Costa Rica
1978 Paraguay Paraguay
1986 Canada Canada
1989 Aruba Aruba
1991 Cuba Cuba
1992 Equatorial Guinea 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, Panama, Portugal, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, 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 and the Netherlands 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 fourth 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 served as host locations.

Venues and presenters[edit]

Year Date of Final City Venue Presenter(s) Host broadcaster Orchestra
1972 November 25, 1972 Spain Madrid Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones Rosa María Mateo and Raúl Matas RTVE RTVE Light Music Orchestra
1973 November 10, 1973 Brazil Belo Horizonte Palácio das Artes Walter Forster and Iris Lettieri Rede Tupi Rede Tupi Symphonic Orchestra
1974 October 26, 1984 Mexico Acapulco Teatro Juan Ruiz de Alarcón Lolita Ayala and Raúl Velasco Televisa Acapulco Philharmonic Orchestra
1975 November 15, 1975 Puerto Rico San Juan Telemundo Studio 2 Marisol Malaret and Beba Franco Telemundo Telemundo Symphonic Orchestra
1976 October 30, 1976 Mexico Acapulco Teatro Juan Ruiz de Alarcón Susana Dosamantes and Raúl Velasco Televisa Acapulco Philharmonic Orchestra
1977 November 12, 1977 Spain Madrid Centro Cultural de la Villa de Madrid Mari Cruz Soriano and Miguel de los Santos RTVE RTVE Light Music Orchestra
1978 December 2, 1978 Chile Santiago Teatro Municipal Raquel Argandoña and Raúl Matas Canal 13, Canal 9 and TVN Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago
1979 December 8, 1979 Venezuela Caracas Teatro del Círculo Militar Eduardo Serrano and Carmen Victoria Pérez Venevisión and RCTV §
1980 November 15, 1980 Argentina Buenos Aires Teatro General San Martín Liliana López Foresi and Antonio Carrizo Canal 7 ATC Orchestras for OTI 1980-2000 undisclosed
1981 December 5, 1981 Mexico Mexico City Auditorio Nacional Raúl Velasco Televisa
1982 November 27, 1982 Peru Lima Coliseo Amauta Humberto Martínez Morosini, Zenaida Solís, Pepe Ludmir and Silvia Maccera Panamericana Televisión
1983 October 29, 1983 United States Washington, D.C. DAR Constitution Hall Ana Carlota and Rafael Pineda SIN
1984 November 10, 1984 Mexico Mexico City Auditorio Nacional Raúl Velasco Televisa
1985 September 21, 1985 Spain Seville Teatro Lope de Vega Paloma San Basilio and Emilio Aragón RTVE
1986 November 15, 1986 Chile Santiago Teatro Municipal Pamela Hodar and César Antonio Santis Canal 13 and TVN
1987 October 24, 1987 Portugal Lisbon Teatro São Luís Ana Maria Zanatti and Eládio Clímaco RTP
1988 November 19, 1988 Argentina Buenos Aires Cervantes Theatre Pinky and Juan Alberto Badía Canal 7 ATC and Canal 13 Artear
1989 November 18, 1989 United States Miami Knight International Center Don Francisco, Lucy Pereda and Antonio Vodanovic Univisión
1990 December 1, 1990 United States Las Vegas Caesars Palace Emmanuel and María Conchita Alonso
1991 December 14, 1991 Mexico Acapulco Centro de Convenciones Raúl Velasco Televisa
1992 December 5, 1992 Spain Valencia Teatro Principal Paloma San Basilio and Joaquín Prat RTVE
1993 October 9, 1993 Paloma San Basilio and Francisco
1994 October 15, 1994 Ana Obregón and Francisco
1995 November 11, 1995 Paraguay San Bernardino Teatro José Asunción Flores Menchi Barriocanal and Rubén Rodríguez Canal 13
1996 December 14, 1996 Ecuador Quito Teatro Nacional Christian Jhonson and Ximena Aulestia Ecuavisa, Teleamazonas and Gamavisión
1997 October 25, 1997 Peru Lima Plaza Mayor Jorge Belevan and Claudia Doig América Televisión
1998 November 14, 1998 Costa Rica San José Teatro Nacional Maribel Guardia and Rafael Rojas Repretel and Teletica
2000 May 20, 2000 Mexico Acapulco Centro de Convenciones Emmanuel, Andrea Legarreta, Gabriela Spanic and Otto Sirgo Televisa

§ Indicates that the orchestra was specially arranged for this edition of the contest.

There was no OTI Song Contest in 1999 due to floods in the host city. The competition was cancelled in 2001 and beyond.

Voting system[edit]

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 favorite 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 competition twice (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 country[edit]

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, especially 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 2001 for Estonia, performing the song "Everybody" with Tanel Padar and 2XL.

Return attempts[edit]

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]

In February 2022, RTVE announced Hispavision, a song festival where Spanish-speaking Latin American countries will take part alongside Brazil and Portugal as invited nations. The project is scheduled to start in 2023 and will be held in Cartagena, Colombia.[7][8]

In July 12, 2022, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced its expansion of the Eurovision Song Contest brand to Latin America. The planned contest will be produced by the same producers of other Eurovision spin-offs, including the American Song Contest and the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest Canada. They have begun searching for a viable host city.[9]


  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. ^ Pinto, Por: Carolina (April 7, 2014). "¿Quién se acuerda del festival de la canción OTI?".
  4. ^ "Anuncian regreso del Festival OTI - La Razón". La Razón (in Mexican 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.
  7. ^ "Tornero anuncia la creación de HISPAVISIÓN en el I Foro Iberoamericano de Servicio Público Audiovisual". RTVE.es. February 16, 2022.
  8. ^ "RTVE impulsa Hispavisión, un Eurovisión que unirá a los países que hablan español". FormulaTV.
  9. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest to launch in Latin America". European Broadcasting Union. July 12, 2022. Retrieved July 12, 2022.

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