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Early life and family
Bodega was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador on February 9th, 1869, the only child of Ernesto Bodega, a Chilean naval architect, and his Ecuadorian wife Barbara Flores. When Francisco was four years old, his mother died of an undiagnosed illness which historians have speculated was likely to be some form of cancer; and he and his father moved to Valparaíso, Chile. Growing up among sailors of the Chilean navy, he became intrigued by the military lifestyle, and at 17, he enlisted in the joint Army-Navy expedition to Antarctica, to defend the Chilean settlements on the continent.
Chilean Army career
When he arrived in Antarctica in 1886, his unit immediately became involved in the Berkner Land War, fighting against British, Russian and Argentine colonists for control of the Berkner Bay region. This "War" was unorthodox, in that none of the countries involved actually made declarations of war; and the Military actions were practically unknown to the High Command in the home countries.
For 14 years, Bodega fought in Antarctica, and in between stints of combat, he began to build a life for himself among the local Chilean community. In 1895, he married Clara Esposito, the daughter of prominent local businessman-come-politician Julio Esposito. Four years later, Esposito introduced him to Miguel Suárez, another politician who was the leader of a movement to unite the Chilean and Argentine settlers to found an independent Hispanic nation in the area. Bodega was captivated by Suárez' ideas, and began campaigning among the Military to get support for this movement.
In 1901, a congress was held between Chilean and Argentine settlers, and an agreement was reached to found the nation of Santiago. The widespread support from local people, combined with the relative insignificance of the area, meant that all four countries which claimed the area soon abandoned their colonies and recognized Santiago as a new nation. Bodega tendered his resignation to the Chilean army, and, when Suárez was elected as Santiago's first President, Bodega was reinstated as a Captain in the fledgling Santiagan Army.
Santiagan Army career
Between 1901 and 1914, Bodega was instrumental in fully establishing the Santiagan Military, and he had major roles in both combat and administration. During this period, Santiago was not involved in any external conflicts, but there were a number of internal issues which the Army had to deal with. For a few years after Santiago was founded, many loyalist settlers from Britain, Russia, Argentina and Chile continued to fight to control the area; and the Army was tasked with pacifying these partisans. Any who surrendered were offered the option of becoming Santiagan citizens, though most of the British and Russians preferred to move to other Antarctic colonies.
In the north, the Kaiws Nation were often involved in skirmishes with government troops, which eventually forced the army to place a permanent garrison in the area; while in the south, smuggling, piracy and organized crime were rampant, and the police were too understaffed to deal with it. Bodega saw action in each of these three "conflicts", and proved his skill as a tactician and leader in all of them. He was promoted to Colonel after negotiating a temporary peace between the Kaiws and the government in 1907.
In 1914, Nationalist President Esteban Sanchez signed the September Agreement with Austria-Hungary, which brought Santiago into World War I as a member of the Central Powers. Francisco Bodega was posted at the Santiago-Russian Antarctica border; and set up defenses against the incoming Russian, British and Australian assaults. He also served a brief period during December 1915 in San Martín, Santiago's capital, but this was only during the supposed threat of a British Naval assault, which turned out to be a false alarm.
While stationed on the border, Bodega met with Aleksander Aiy'ak, the leader of the Katharan Liberation Army — a Central Powers-aligned guerrilla movement of AIPs from Russian Antarctica. As the KLA were allies of Santiago, Aiy'ak stationed some of his guerrillas in the area to fight alongside Bodega's troops.
Winter Uprising and Interim Government
- Main article: Winter Uprising
In early 1915, Bodega began to realize that Santiago had no reason to fight the War, and had nothing to gain from it. He felt that his soldiers were fighting and dying needlessly, and he began to become highly critical of the Government's handling of the War. In April, he met with six other like-minded officers, and they formulated a plan to oust Esteban Sanchez from power. On May 3rd, Bodega disobeyed orders by signing an armistice with Allied officers stationed in the region; and he and his fellow officers mutinied against the Army High Command.
The mutinous troops - now known as the "Winter Rebels" (Antarctic Winter is during the Summer of the Northern Hemisphere) - began to retreat from their posts and march on the Capitol. They were supported by a large proportion of civilians, who began to organize general strikes in protest of the War. The government responded by deploying troops to subdue the rebels and break the strikes, and a Civil War began. After 5 months of continuous combat across the nation, the Winter Rebels stormed the Capitol, and President Sanchez resigned his office.
The Rebels set up an interim government, and met with the striking Unions and the Liberal Party (Santiago's only remaining major party after the collapse of Sanchez' National Party) to decide on the fate of the nation. Bodega took charge of the interim government, which was composed mostly of Liberal politicians and former Winter Rebel officers. One of the first acts of the interim government was to sign a finalized peace treaty with the Allied Powers, while allowing German soldiers stationed in the country to return to New Swabia, and offering amnesty to members of the KLA who did not want to risk returning to Russian Antarctica.
During this time, many of Bodega's policies suffered heavy opposition from the Liberals, but he was unable to remove them from the government, as he was not officially President. His control over the military was reduced after the interim government was established, so his only chance to overcome the Liberals' opposition was to establish a new political party. After conferring with trade union leaders – not his ideal political partners, but preferential to the Liberal Party – and his allies in the military, Bodega established the People's Party of Santiago, which united most of the non-Liberal government officials, thus ending the Liberal domination of the interim government. In 1916, Bodega was the People's Party candidate for President of Santiago, and was comfortably elected to the position.
With the Liberal Party now confined to the House of Delegates, Bodega was able to operate much more freely. He began several post-War reconstruction policies, deployed the Army into construction and repair work, and oversaw the modernization of several aspects of Santiagan society.
He was also the first President to take a major interest in the country's police force. Under his administration, the force almost doubled in size, and began to make more and more arrests. Some accused him of being "draconian" in terms of his law and order policies, but severe sentences such as the death penalty did not significantly increase during his tenure, as most criminals were given simple jail sentences. In any case, criminal activity was greatly reduced by his emphasis on policing.
Retirement, death and legacy