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Ricky Martin Brings the House Down, Protests Lead to Rescheduled Competition & More From Viña del Mar Day 1

Ricky Martin opened the Viña del Mar music festival in Chile with a sold-out show, where he traversed some of his greatest hits, from “Vuelve” to a reimagined “Livin' La Vida Loca.”

Playing to an adoring crowd of more than 15,000, an emotional Martin — who last played this venue six years ago — was generous with his playlist, performing for more than 90 minutes and picking up a silver and gold seagull (Gaviota de Plata y de Oro), the symbolic trophies that the crowd at Viña del Mar, known as “El Monstruo” (the monster), clamors for (or doesn’t) when they like a performance.

Martin performed at Viña del Mar, the oldest and most respected Latin music festival and song competition in the world, as part of his South American tour. He sang back by his full band and eight dancers, delivering a show that was part pop, part Vegas razzle dazzle and part die-hard romantic emotion. And while he opened and closed with signature dance hits like “La Bomba” and “Livin' La Vida Loca,” it was the romantic segment — which Martin performed sitting barefoot on a stool sans dancers — that generated some of the most reaction from a crowd that sang along every step of the way.

It wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment of the show. 

While Martin sang in the historical Quinta Vergara venue, which hosted the event for its 61st year, outside there were protests stemming from Chile’s “estallido social,” or Social explosion, the anti-government movement that started Oct. 18. Protesters burned cars in front of the historic O’Higgins hotel and forced festival organizers to cancel the competition portion of the evening, as some of the contestants were staying there.

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At Quinta Vergara, hosts Maria Luisa Godoy and Martin Cárcamo acknowledged that the occurrence was “unprecedented” in the festival’s six decades of existence and also clarified that the contest would start officially Monday (Feb. 24). However, those onstage were not ignoring the realities of the country. “Chile, we are with you,” were words heard often during the evening, from the hosts and from Martin himself. “I’m with you, Chile,” said Martin, who last summer led demonstrations against the Puerto Rican government. “Demand your rights. Never stay silent. Peacefully, but not silent.”

Chile’s protests, which were set off by an increase in metro fares, have focused on asking for governmental and constitutional reform and the demands for basic rights. Massive marches have taken place in the country since Oct. 18, but activity had lulled until Sunday night in Viña.

Regardless, the show is set to go on Monday night, with Mon Laferte, the Chilean singer/songwriter who has actively raised her voice against the government, as the headliner. Fellow Chilean singer Francisca Valenzuela will close the show in an all-Chilean evening. Maroon 5, Ozuna, Ana Gabriel and Pimpinela are also slated to headline.

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On Sunday night, closing the show fell on Martin's fellow Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Pedro Capó, who is in the midst of a career high with the success of his single “Calma.” Capó performed with an 11-piece band steeped in reggae and Caribbean rhythms.

If Ricky was sleek pop, this was free love. It also worked. Capó walked out with gold and silver seagulls. 

For the remainder of the week, Capó will be a judge at the siniginig competition. 

Billboard’s Leila Cobo wil be sitting as a judge at the Viña del Mar song competition until Feb. 28.