Verbal warfare: Daniel Ortega's 1990 presidential campaign speeches as a rhetorical battle

Ann Rosenthal


This textual analysis of the 1990 Nicaraguan presidential political campaign speeches of incumbent Daniel Ortega Saavedra considered the rhetoric as an element in the larger conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Central American republic of Nicaragua was a battlefield in the superpowers' war of ideas. Using the Sun Tzu model of warfare, the study defined the relationship of rhetoric and war as it happened in the Nicaraguan presidential election campaign. The U.S. declaration that it was involved in a war of information in the southern hemisphere was used not to assign blame but to consider Ortega's rhetorical reaction to that declaration. The Sandinista party which Ortega represented used a campaign strategy which clearly dealt with the U.S./Nicaragua war. Ortega's speeches were found to include strategic themes and tactical elements. Ortega addressed at least three audiences: the voting population of Nicaragua, the international community, and the media. The persuasive messages employed by Ortega were identified as they related to Sun Tzu's elements of war.