Peter Miguel Camejo (born December 31, 1939) is a financier, businessman, political activist, environmentalist, author, and one of the founders of the socially responsible investment movement. In 2004, he was selected by independent candidate Ralph Nader as his vice-presidential running mate.
Camejo is a first generation American of Venezuelan descent. In spite of spending his earliest years in Venezuela, he had been fortuitously born in New York City where his mother had sought health care. His parents divorced when he was seven, and he came with his mother to reside principally in the United States. On summer holidays he would return to Venezuela to visit relatives. The contrasts he perceived between his two "homes" during these early years greatly influenced his character: specifically, his passionate love of democracy and political freedom, and his equal disdain for social inequality and injustice. He competed for Venezuela in yachting in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley where he studied history. In 1967, after winning a student council election at Berkeley he was suspended for "using an unauthorized microphone" in a protest against the Vietnam War.
For most of his life, Camejo has participated in political movements advocating social, economic, and environmental justice. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama, rallied with migrant farm workers, and protested the Vietnam War.
He was the Socialist Workers Party candidate for president in 1976 and co-founded the California Green Party in 1991.
In 2002 he was the Green Party's official candidate in the 2002 California gubernatorial election, polling 381,700 votes or 5.3%. (http://vote2002.ss.ca.gov/Returns/gov/00.htm)
In 2003 he was the leading Green Party candidate for governor in an unprecedented California recall election, in which he polled 3% of the votes. Although an actor turned Republican politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger, won the election (ousting the unpopular Democratic Party incumbent Gray Davis), Camejo's attendance and widely respected performance in all of the scheduled debates brought national support and worldwide attention to the Green Party. Without his having the rich financial funding of many of his opponents, Peter Camejo finished fourth in a field of 135 certified candidates: quite a feat in California, a state that was often described during the election as the fifth largest economy in the world.
In January, 2004 Peter Camejo initiated the Avocado Education Project that issued a statement known as the Avocado Declaration. The Avocado Declaration described how the Democratic Party and the Republican Party hinder social progress by working together to largely benefit a small wealthy constituency. It further advocated for a fiercely independent Green Party that would be capable of attracting nonvoters and disillusioned mainstream party supporters.
"The Green Party is at a crossroads," the Declaration began. Indeed, the central debate within the national Green Party prior to its 2004 presidential nomination was about whether to follow Camejo's advice of pursuing a confrontational campaign stategy promulgated in The Avocado Declaration or to tend the party at the state and local levels and assist a Democratic Party victory over the Republicans in the fall. While Camejo and others advocated for attracting new party members by sharply defining campaign issues, some feared a backlash against the party if it was perceived to help return George W. Bush to the White House.
Camejo submitted himself as a candidate in the Green Party of California's March 2, 2004 presidential preference primary. Before the primary, he made it known (though not in the state's official voter guide) that he was not planning to run for president and that any delegates pledged to him would be released as uncommitted in order to allow for greater flexibility in the nominating process. The popular former gubernatorial candidate got 76 percent of the vote and also accumulated a few pledged delegates from other states.
At the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 26, 2004, proponents of a less confrontational strategy tended to support the nomination of presidential candidate David Cobb, while Camejo's fellow-thinkers rallied behind him and called for an endorsement of the Nader/Camejo campaign. However, the presence of other issues such as Nader's non-membership in the party, non-presence at the convention, and alliance with the Reform Party kept the nomination vote from being merely a referendum on strategy. Cobb won the nomination in the second round.
Despite losing the endorsement of the Green Party, Nader and Camejo continued their campaign as independent candidates, having been endorsed by the Reform Party on May 11, 2004.
Both Nader and Camejo said the main reason they ran in the 2004 election was because there were no other national candidates demanding an immediate withdrawal of American troops from an immoral and unconstitutionally pursued War in Iraq (though Cobb, Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik, and Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka also oppose the war).
Peter Camejo is married and has two children. He lives in Folsom, California. He is currently Chief Executive Officer of Progressive Asset Management, a financial investment firm that encourages socially responsible projects. He is the author of "The SRI Advantage- Why Socially Responsible Investing Has Outperformed Financially", and other books.