History of La Junta

Less than fifty years ago, the Palena River used to lodge three settlements along its long course: Alto Palena, Medio Palena and Bajo Palena.

La Junta used to be called Medio Palena and due to its geographical features, it would have a special importance regarding the movements of colonists from one region to another with their animals. It was a point where they met, rested and got supplies before continuing towards the ports open in those days.

At the port of Puyuhuapi, first, and at the port of Raúl Marín Balmaceda, later, they would welcome the cattle drivers to dispatch the animals on ancient ships powered by coal towards other destinations.

Many arrived as cattle drivers and stayed in the area. Entire families built their “ranchitas”, humble and primitive constructions, taking advantage of the good pastures of the area.

La Junta was founded in 1963. In those days, many hectares were granted to families who resolved to settle down in the area to raise cattle. As there were no schools, the Catholic priest Ronchi took charge of basic instruction by convincing the colonists of the need to train their children without any need for them to give up the rural tasks.

The completion of the Southern Road represented a turning point in the life of this town.

When the Chilean-Argentinian borders had not been completely defined, the dwellers of La Junta used to cross into the neighboring country in order to buy everything they did not produce. Salt, sugar and flour were exchanged by their animals and harvests.

The consequence of this bilateral need was that some traditions between both peoples became united. For instance, mate amargo, the card game known as truco and some garments were adopted by the Chilean inhabitants of this town. Likewise, the way of grilling meat was similar, as well as some Argentinian folklore songs that would be sung in a similar way in the entire Chilean Patagonian region.

The locals have had an open mind regarding improvements in production. Thus, the Forest National Corporation has developed a Preservation and Sustainable Management of the Native Forest. This has led to the good use of wood workers without actually having to get rid of them.

Also, the cattle farming area is being worked with a health certification that will foster the export of international quality meat to Europe. Both examples give evidence of a people that wishes to thrive without using up its resources.

Today, La Junta is a young experienced town willing to make progress.