Monday, September 15, 2008

Peter Camejo presente! - Helped Found Green Party

Peter Camejo Dies - Helped Found Green Party

Rachel Gordon

San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Third-party political activist Peter Camejo, a perennial

candidate for state and national office who helped

pioneer the financial market niche of socially

responsible investments, died Saturday. He was 68.

Mr. Camejo, who had been battling a recurrence of

lymphoma, died at home in Folsom ( Sacramento County ).

He helped found the California Green Party in 1991 and

ran three times for governor of California . He also ran

as independent Ralph Nader's vice presidential running

mate in the 2004 presidential election in which

President Bush won a second term. In 1976 he ran for

president as the Socialist Workers Party candidate.

Mr. Camejo described himself as a watermelon - red on

the inside, green on the outside.

"Peter used his eloquence, sharp wit and barnstorming

bravado to blaze a trail for 21st century third-party

politics in the U.S. ," Nader said in a prepared

statement, which described Mr. Camejo as a "politically

courageous champion of the downtrodden and mistreated of

the entire Western Hemisphere ."

Active in the Free Speech Movement and in protests

against the Vietnam War as a student at UC Berkeley in

the late 1960s, Mr. Camejo landed on then-Gov. Ronald

Reagan's list of the 10 most dangerous people in

California. School officials eventually expelled him,

two quarters shy of a degree.

The spark of activism stayed with him as he became a

leader in the movement to give voice to third-party

candidates. He fought for universal health care,

election reform, farmworker rights, living wage laws and

against the death penalty and abortion restrictions.

His forum was often electoral politics, where he

challenged Republicans and Democrats alike.

He ran for California governor in 2002, 2003 and 2006,

only once breaking past the mark of 5 percent of the

vote in grassroots campaigns in which he was vastly

outspent by his Democratic and Republican rivals. He

once told a reporter that he never expected to win, but

wanted to help elevate the Greens to the mainstream political stage.

Mr. Camejo earned his living as a financier and helped

start an investment firm, Progressive Management Asset

Inc. in Oakland . Clients can arrange their portfolios so

that their investments, for example, are not linked to

animal testing, weapons or sweatshop labor.

He created the first environmentally screened fund - the

Eco-Logical Trust - for a major Wall Street firm,

Merrill Lynch. He also founded the Council for

Responsible Public Investments and wrote the book, "The

SRI Advantage: Why Socially Responsible Investing Has Outperformed Financially."

Peter Miguel Camejo was born on New Year's Eve 1939 at a

hospital in Queens , N.Y. , where his mother had flown

from Venezuela to use the American health care system

and to give her son dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizenship. He

spent the first part of his life in his parents'

homeland. He moved to New York at age 7 with his mother

when his parents divorced but spent summers in Latin

America. He said the poverty he saw as a youth in

Venezuela drove his passion for social and economic justice.

After graduating from high school with a perfect score

on his math SAT, he studied mathematics at the

Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later

transferred to UC Berkeley. He never earned a degree.

Matt Gonzalez, a former San Francisco supervisor who is

running for vice president with Nader as an independent,

said that Mr. Camejo once told him that when he

interviewed for his job at Merrill Lynch, "the only

thing that was true on my resume was my name and phone number."

Gonzalez said Mr. Camejo was a success at Merrill Lynch,

but was pushed out after the firm found out that one of

its star employees had been arrested for protesting and

had run for president as a socialist. Gonzalez said his

friend continued to be a pioneer in the socially

responsible investment movement and made a political

mark, even though he did not win in any state or national election.

In the days leading to his death, Mr. Camejo completed

his autobiography.

"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," Nader said.

He is survived by his wife, Morella Camejo; stepdaughter

Alexandra Baquera of San Diego; stepson Victor Baquera

of Folsom; brothers Antonio and Daniel Camejo and Danny Ratner.

Details for a memorial service will be announced.

1 comment:

Ron Robins said...

Peter Camejo was a great pioneer in many ways. One of the things I share with him was his interest in ethical investing.

I got interested in ethical investing some forty years ago as I believed that when we invest in a company we share in the responsibility for the activities of the company as well as participate in the outcomes of the company's activities. Therefore anyone valuing their personal or spiritual growth has to take these things into account when investing.

I also believe that if everyone does invest according to their personal values, then, since so many of core values are alike -- and are supportive of higher ideals -- that in the long run, only companies employing these higher values will truly prosper.

For anyone interested I have a site that covers the latest global news and research on ethical investing. It's at

Best wishes, Ron Robins