WITH RESPECT; PETER MIGUEL CAMEJO: Dec. 31,1939 - Sept.13,2008
It is with sincere sadness and condolences to his friends and family that we report the passing of Peter Miguel Camejo. Before we go ahead and post some links to the information about this Venezuelan - American's life, we thought it prudent to share a few brief reminiscences of the few times we had the pleasure and the honour of speaking to this eloquent, witty, and intellectually courageous activist.
Although our 'history' with Mr. Camejo doesn't extend far back, we were certainly influenced by his example and aware of his work far before our irst meetings with him. At a younger age, we had the pleasure of reading excerpts of his book "Racism, Revolution, Reaction, 1861-1877. The Rise and Fall of Radical Reconstruction", at the same time we first read Howard Zinn's 'A People's History..."
There were early essays that came along in periodical literature (before the Interwebs) that we read as a teenage volunteers for the Canadian anti-nuke group 'ACT' ( Against Cruise Testing) - and they helped temper our understanding of geopolitical issues far beyond what any high school was attempting to teach us.
In the intervening years, we cheered when Peter ran for Governor of California and made strong showings in a field that was littered with cynics, careerists, lobbyists, celebrities, and moneyed candidates. Our first conversations with him were for independent, and now defunct Toronto - based online magazines called Burning Ink.com, and 'Start!', both independent projects that were non partisan but sought to bring attention to activists, artists, musicians,filmmakers, and people of all political stripes and persuasions who were making an attempt to go beyond soapboxing and platitudes. In fact, he joined us amid his busy schedule the day directly after his first debate during the Gray Davis Gubernatorial Recall Circus -- an insult to democratic standards by any measure. His spirits were high and even pundtwits were conceding that he added class to the debate process and helped direct panelists to the important topics. These were issues such as poverty, the CA state budget, universal health care, and even death penalty abolition.
Camejo made a respectable showing in that race, "finishing fourth in a field of 135 candidates (2.8%), and in 2002 finishing third with 5.3%". The money in those races was thrown around like used toilet paper and eventually Arnold Schwarzenegger (and Arianna Huffington) used considerable funding and star power to take the race from a respectable candidate.
But Peter was more than happy to field our questions and explain the nuances of the campaign's recall scheme in eloquent and very direct terms. We'll make an effort to find the trancsript of that interview for our readers.
The second meeting with Peter Camejo came during the Democratic National Convention in 2004 when he was tapped by Ralph Nader to run as his running mate on an independent ticket. Ralph made an afternoon appearance at Harvard University and again, talked eloquently, patiently, and at great length about the ticket, the race, the political system the uphill battle of the establishing a third party in the U.S.,, and legal roadblocks being imposed by the Democratic Party ater the 2000 fear mongering and "spolier accusations" levelled against Nader in the wake of the Florida 2000 election 'result'. Peter took special time to address all of our questions after about an hour - talking about such issues as the Iraq War, the Drug War, AWOL U.S. soldiers resisting the deployment on legal grounds, and again, we'll post the audio and photographs from that 2004 encounter with Peter Camejo.
Peter Camejo was instrumental in bringing issues of immigration fairness, legislative imbalances, workers rights, and even laid the groundwork in establishing the Green Party USA as a future force on the U.S. political scene.
At this point we feel it's appropriate to post the official statement / mailout by the Nader for President campaign and ralph's reflections of Peter - followed by some links and information in case your not familiar with the life and work of Peter.