Gran Colombia had conflicts across a wide region. At times, Bolívar undertook military campaigns directly to a conflicted area, as in the “Admirable Campaign” to liberate Venezuela. But at times, republican (anti-royal) armies seemed to be operating nearly independently. Such was the case with Santiago Mariño. Originally from the island of Margarita, in present-day Venezuela, Mariño attempted to single-handedly liberate the region from the Spanish. With Bolívar invading from the west, Mariño attacked Venezuela from the east. Each claimed to be fighting for the same cause, but with neither recognizing the other as dominant. A story goes that Mariño, dressed in his full military uniform, once boasted to his attache, “Antonio, I am young, rich, handsome, General in Chief at the age of 25! What do I lack?” His assistant responded simply, “Prudence.”
Mariño eventually had to back down, and Bolívar gave him command of the Venezuelan front. The two continued to fight together, and were even arrested together – by one of their own generals, José Ribas, who sought to rule the western half of Gran Colombia.
Despite this, Mariño always kept a dream of his own Venezuelan state in mind. After José Antonio Páez eventually declared an independent Venezuela, Mariño in turn declared an independent “State of the East”. Mariño was forced to flee as his nascent state was put down, but his conviction was not – he was to lead a coup attempt and, later, as Páez’s rivals took power and deposed the former President, it was Mariño to meet him – and defeat him – on the field.