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Remembering Peter Camejo
by Ralph Nader
Peter Miguel Camejo, a civil rights leader, socially responsible investment pioneer, and magnanimo caballero for third party politics in the US, peacefully passed away on September 13 at his home in Folsom, Calif. with his wife Morella at his side — only days after completing his autobiography.
The 68-year-old justice fighter had been battling a recurrence of lymphoma cancer, and his condition had rapidly deteriorated.
Peter was a student leader, civil rights advocate, leader in the socially responsible investment industry with his own investment firm, Progressive Asset Management, Inc., and author of books on investment and history including Racism, Revolution, Reaction, 1861–1877; The Rise and Fall of Radical Reconstruction; California Under Corporate Rule; and his recent book, The SRI Advantage: Why Socially Responsible Investing Has Outperformed Financially.
Peter used his eloquence, sharp wit, and barnstorming bravado to blaze a trail for 21st century third party politics in the US. He was a third party candidate for state and national office, making three gubernatorial runs in California as a Green, including one in the 2002 election when he earned 5.3% of the vote. In the 2003 recall election, he debated Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis, and in the 2004 Presidential election, he was my running mate on our Independent Ticket.
Among the many causes Peter forcefully championed were a living wage, healthcare for all, and making the US the world leader in renewable energy. He was also a passionate advocate for electoral reform, pressing for proportional representation and internal run-off voting (allowing voters to rank their top choices) in an effort to overturn the “200-year-old dysfunctional money-dominated winner-take-all system that disrespects the will of the people.”
Peter was a friend, colleague and politically courageous champion of the downtrodden and mistreated of the entire Western Hemisphere. Everyone who met Peter, talked with Peter, worked with Peter, or argued with Peter will miss the passing of a great American.
Peter Camejo is survived by his wife Morella, his father Daniel, his daughter Alexandra, his son Victor, three brothers Antonio, Daniel, and Danny, and three grandchildren Andrew, Daniel, and Oliver.
When his autobiography (with the working title Northstar) is published, we will all be able to get a vivid sense of the great measure of Peter Camejo as a sentinel force for civil rights and civil liberties, and expander of democracy. His lifework will inspire the political and economic future for a long time.
P.S. As Vijay Prashad notes, Camejo was a member of the 1960 Venezuelan Olympics team for yachting.
Ralph Nader was a Green Party candidate for president in 2000 and independent candidate in 2004 and 2008.
Editor’s note: Peter was active in the Free Speech Movement and protests against the Vietnam War as a student at the University of California, Berkeley. He made the list of the most dangerous people in California put together for then-Governor Ronald Reagan. Peter ran as the Socialist Workers Party candidate for president in 1976. He was a strong supporter of Synthesis/Regeneration. He will be missed by all who valued his commitment to peace and justice.
[19 dec 08]