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Santiago Mariño (25 July 1788 was born in the
Valle Espíritu Santo on the island of Margarita – and died 4 September 1854 in La Victoria, Aragua), was a
nineteenth-century Venezuelan revolutionary leader and hero in
the Venezuelan War of
Independence (1811-1823). He became an important leader of
eastern Venezuela and for a short while in 1835 seized power over
the new state of Venezueala.
His father was the captain of the "Santiago Mariño de Acuña"
militias and "Lieutenant Greater Justice of the Gulf of Paria". His
mother, Atanasia Carige Fitzgerald, of Creole and Irish descent, was from the island of Trinidad, where his parents
resided while he was a boy. Due to his parents' wealth he was well
educated. After his father's death in 1808, he moved to the island
of Margarita (about
250 km west of Trinidad, off the Venezuelan coast), to take
possession of his inheritance.
Mariño was also one of the greatest figures in the history of Masonry in Venezuela, although
he was apparently initiated in Trinidad. He was awarded the title
of "Serenismo Gran Maestro del Gran Oriente Nacional" ('The Most
Serene Grand Master of the Great National East").
Napoleonic Wars: War of Spanish Independence
Signature of Santiago Mariño
The rise of the revolutionary movement in Venezuela was stronly
influenced by the confusing and rapidly changing situation in
Spain. Spain was initially against France in the Napoleonic
Wars, but in 1795 France declared war on Spain which concluded
an alliance with France and declared war on Great Britain. The
British responded by blockading Spain, whose her colonies were, for
the first time cut off from their colonial rulers, and began to
trade independently with Britain.
British support for the Venezuelan revolutionaries from
Thomas Picton, the first British Governor of Trinidad after the
capitulation of the Spanish, who held office from 1797-1803, was a
great support to the revolutionaries or "Patriots" led by Mariño in
Venezuela. Soon after becoming Governor, he issued a Proclamation
on 6 June 1797, based on suggestions from Britain, which
- "The object which at present I desire most particularly to
bring to your attention, is the means which might best be adopted
to liberate the people of the continent near to the Island of
Trinidad from the oppressive and tyrannic system which supports
with so much vigour the monopoly of commerce.... In order to fulfil
this intention with the greater facility, it will be prudent for
your Excellency to animate the inhabitants of Trinidad in keeping
up the communication which they had with those of Tierra Firma
previous to the reduction of that Island, under assurance that they
will find there an entrepot or general magazines of every sort of
every sort of goods whatsoever. To this end His Britannic Majesty
has determined in Council to grant freedom to the ports of
Trinidad, with a direct trade to Great Britain...."
Ironically, the 1807 devastating defeat of the British invasions
of the River Plate in South America, largely
by local militias, encouraged a more independent attitude in
Spain's American colonies.
power weakens, paving the way to Independence
After the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October
1805), Spain changed sides again, only to realign itself with
France after Napoleon defeated Prussia in 1807. However, Spain was had been
severely weakened by all these wars, opening an opportunity for the
revolutionaries in South America.
Following this, the Spanish king, Ferdinand VII, was
deposed by Napoleon in 1808. He had been on the throne just 48 days
after his father Charles IV abdicated in his favor.
He was replaced by Joseph Bonaparte, the elder brother of
Napoleon, who ruled as king of Spain from 6 June 1808 to 11
December 1813. A "Supreme Central Junta" was
formed to govern in the name of Ferdinand, marking the beginning of
Spain's War of Independence from French domination.
Joseph Bonaparte and his brother, Napoleon, led a long and
bitter war against the British forces under the Duke of
Wellington, culminating in Napoleon being forced to allow the
reinstatement of Ferdinand VII on 11 December 1813, who ruled Spain
until his death in 1833.
On 19 April 1810 the city council or cabildo of Caracas reformed itself as a Junta, soon to be
followed by the provincial centres such as Barcelona, Cumaná, Mérida, and Trujillo.
They saw themselves as allied with the Junta of Seville which ruled
in the name of the king. Simón Bolívar saw the setting up of the
Junta as a step toward outright independence.
Ports were opened to international trade, particularly with
Britain which received preferential treatment, paying 25% less tax
than other nations. The young Bolívar went to London to seek
support if Venezuela was attacked and to pressure the Spanish
grants special privileged. This was difficult to do as Britain and
Spain were allies, but he was given promises of future trade
concessions. Spain viewed these developments with alarm and, in
1810, declared the popular party rebels, the province was treated
as enemy territory and its ports were blockaded.
The Royalists held Guyana and the Orinoco Delta, while the rebel
Patriots held the coasts from Maturín to Cape la Peña.
In late 1812 Mariño joined Colonel Manuel Villapol who marched
Excelling in combat, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Some
months later he was appointed Commander of Guiria, bravely
defending that centre of the Royalists' assault, and was promoted
to the rank of Colonel.
The Venezuelan War of
Independence occurred while the Spanish were preoccupied with
that of New Granada in Spain. On 17 December 1819 the Congress of Angostura established
independence from Spain. After several more years of war, which
killed half of Venezuela's white population, the country achieved
independence from Spain in 1821 under the leadership of its most
famous son, Simón Bolívar. Venezuela, along with the modern
countries of Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, forming part of the
Republic of Gran Colombia until 1830, when Venezuela separated, and
became a sovereign country.
After the Battle of San Mateo, the Republic
collapsed, and Francisco de Miranda capitulated
to Monteverde, signing
an armistice on 25 July
1812. Mariño's Venezuelan Patriots who survived either fled or were
imprisoned. Mariño himself retired to a property owned by his
sister, in Trinidad.[8
Mariño's invasion of
Mariño was informed of the ill-treatment that befell Miranda and
the other patriotic men, by the Royalist leader General Monteverde,
who violated the terms of the armistice by imprisoning many
Venezuelans. Indignant at such abuse, Mariño assembled an
expeditionary force of 45 Patriots on the small island of Chacachacare off the
coast of Trinidad. Among this small group which were the future
Generals José Francisco Bermúdez, Ascue and Manuel Piar. With that handful of
revolutionaries with a few muskets, they crossed the Gulf of Paria
in canoes, and landed on the coast of Venezuela on the 11 January,
Just prior to Mariño's force leaving, the Governor of Trinidad,
General Munro, intent on proving Trinidad's neutrality, sent a
detachment of the 1st West India
Regiment to tiny island to investigate claims that a military
force was gathering there and to disperse it peacefully, if
possible. They returned to report they had discovered nothing, but
Munro issued a Proclamation stating that the Government of Trinidad
was strictly neutral, and officially banished Mariño from Trinidad
(after he had left) and seized the property of all those involved
with the affair.
The tiny invasion force captured Guiria, a small town on the
gulf coast of Venezuela. Fortunately for them, the main body of 500
Royalist troops had recently moved inland, leaving only the local
militia which was quickly overcome.[8
News of the victory spread quickly and Mariño was soon leading a
force of 5,000 men armed and equipped with supplies captured at
Guiria. They then marched against Maturín on the Rio Guarapiche. Apparently,
Bolívar was pleased that the Royalists would now have to fight on
two fronts but he wanted to liberate Caracas before Mariño was able to do so.
with Bolívar and other independence leaders
In 1813 Simón Bolívar joined the army of United Provinces of New
Granada. After winning a series of battles, Bolívar received
the approval of the "New Granadan Congress" to lead a liberating
force into Venezuela in what became known as the Admirable
Campaign. At the same time, Santiago Mariño invaded from the
east in an independently organized campaign. Both forces quickly
defeated the royalist troops in various battles, such as Alto de los Godos. Bolívar
entered Caracas on 6 August
1813, proclaiming the restoration of the Venezuelan
republic, which was not fully recognized by Mariño based in Cumaná, although the two
leaders did cooperate militarily. There was a struggle between the
two men for the leadership. Mariño named himself "Chief of the
Independent Army" conquered eastern Venezuela and set up a separate
political entity in the east. But Bolívar insisted that it was
essential to have one central government uniting Venezuela and New
Granada to ensure its viability - his first proposal of a greater
In February and March 1814, Mariño and his forces fought
alongside Bolívar. They regrouped at Valencia and Bolívar handed over
command to Mariño, "as a sure sign of his high opinion of his
person and services, and also in this way to ensure the adhesion of
the eastern officers to the common cause of Venezuela." However,
they both had to retreat from central Venezuela to the port of
Carúpano, where they were arrested by their own officers, Ripas,
Piar and Bermúdez, but managed to escape with difficulty. Mariño
and Bermúdez later accused Bolívar of being a traitor and published
a proclamation in Guiria on 23 August, 1816 deposing Bolívar and
naming Mariño as supreme chief with Bermúdez as second in command.
Bolívar had to flee to Haiti.
Bolívar returned from Haiti to Barcelona calling on all to join
together, but first Bermúdez and Valdéz rebelled against Mariño,
and then Mariño against Bolívar. In 1816 Bolívar used the island of
Margarita as his base of operations and, in 1817, the Spanish
Morillo was driven off the island.
Rapprochement with Bolívar and other leaders finally leads to
Gradually more and more of the caudillos (warlords or
political bosses) began to join Bolívar, but then Piar rebelled
against him and was finally put to death. Conflict between Bolívar
and Mariño escalated and in 1818 distracted the military campaign
enough to allow the Royalists to dominate Cumaná. Finally Bolívar managed to win Mariño
over by appointing him General-in-Chief of the Army of the East
with control over the plains of Barcelona, while Bermúdez and
Cedeño were given the rest of the eastern districts and Páez was
yet to be pacified.
Mariño was a member of the Venezuelan Congress in 1819 and was
Chief of Staff during the second Battle of Carabobo, which, on 24
June 1821, finally secured Venezuelan independence.
In May, 1831, a council of 150 residents of the city of Barcelona, General Santiago
Mariño and José Tadeo Monagas were invested as
the principal authorities of the "State of the East", until the
installation of the first Congress to be convened later. After
that, President José Antonio Páez stopped this
separatist attempt, negotiating with the Monagas brothers,
convincing them to submit to central authority.
On the 8th of July, 1835, there was a violent and bloody
military coup, known as the "Revolución de las Reformas", headed by
Mariño, which had the objectives of establishing military control,
the religion of the State, to vindicate the name of Simón Bolivar
as Liberator, and to reconstruct Great Colombia. On 9 July, 1835
President Vargas and Vice-president Andrés Narvarte were expelled
to the Island of Saint
Thomas, and Mariño briefly took the power of the country.
However, José Antonio Páez and his forces entered Caracas on 28
July to find it abandoned by the Reformists, and reinstated Vargas,
putting an early end to Mariño's military rule. Mariño was forced
into exile in 1836, fleeing to Curaçao, Jamaica, Haiti, and finally Colombia.
Mariño returned to Venezuela in 1848 and became Army Chief under
President José Tadeo Monagas to confront his
former leader, General José Antonio Páez, also President of
Mariño unsuccessfully bid for the presidency of Venezuela
several times in the 1830s and 40s. In 1848 he led the forces
supporting President Monagas which overthrew Páez at the 'Batalla
de Los Araguatos' on the 10 March, 1848. Páez was imprisoned, and
Mariño died in the town of La Victoria on 4 September (or, according
to one source, 20 November), 1854.
- ^ a
SANTIAGO MARIÑO, accessed on
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- ^ a
SANTIAGO MARIÑO, accessed on
18 May, 2009.
Carmichael. (1961), p. 45.
Gazeta de Madrid de 14 de junio page 568
Carmichael. (1961), p. 102.
- ^ a
SANTIAGO MARIÑO accessed on
18 May, 2009
- ^ a
Carmichael. (1961), p. 103.
Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory, p. 75. Richard W. Slatta
and Jane Lucas De Grummond. Texas A&M University Press. (2003).
Simón Bolívar: A Life, pp. 76, 78. John Lynch. (2006).
Yale University Press.
The New Encylopædia Britannica, Vol. VI, (1977), p.
Latin America Between Colony and Nation: Selected Essays (The
Hollow Kingdom Trilogy), pp. 172-173. John Lynch. (2001)
Palgrave Macmillan; Reprint edition. ISBN 978-0333786789.
- ^ a
Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Empire: 1402-1975, p.
383. Sam L. Slick, et al. (1991). Greenwood Press. ISBN
The Politics of Exile in Latin America, p. 282 and n. 17.
Mario Sznajder and Luis Roniger. (2009) Cambridge University Press.
- Carmichael, Gertrude (1961).
The History of the West Indian Islands of Trinidad and Tobago,
1498-1900. Alvin Redman, London.