One of the Western world’s most influential Marxists lives in the affluent Southern California enclave of Walnut Creek and heads an investment company with a multi billion dollar portfolio. His reach spans the globe, but events in Australia and New Zealand have been of particular interest to him. He is the Green Party candidate for the upcoming race for the governorship of California, Peter Camejo.
Born in New York in 1939 to a wealthy Venezuelan couple, Peter Miguel Camejo grew up in Venezuela and the US. While at university, Camejo represented Venezuela in yachting in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
A brilliant maths scholar, Camejo attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but dropped out to help the Civil Rights Struggle. He marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama and campaigned for the rights of immigrant farm workers.
Camejo had joined the Trotskyist movement in Boston, where he worked as a branch organisor for the Socialist Workers Party trying to orient the Party to the growing student movement.
He later studied at the University of California’s Berkley campus but was expelled, just shy of completing his history degree, for his militant anti Vietnam war activities.
Then-governor, Ronald Reagan included Camejo on his 1968 list of the ten most dangerous Californians. “He had me expelled from Berkeley,” Camejo said years later. “[Reagan] put one sentence down for each of the ten. For me he said, ‘Present at all anti-war demonstrations.‘”
In 1976, Camejo was the Socialist Workers Party candidate for President of the United States in 1976.
According to the “Progressive” magazine, “Peter Camejo traveled 150,000 miles, crisscrossing the country twenty times, in his quest for the Presidency.”
Camejo’ campaign spent $151,000 for a total of 90,310 votes. Not a lot, but the best ever score by an SWP candidate.
In 1980, Camejo was expelled from the SWP after arguing over tactics with the Party’s leadership.
He worked for a while for the US Postal Service, then became a stockbroker for Merril Lynch where he founded their Eco-logical Trust.
Later Camejo served on the Board of Directors of EarthShare, a coalition of major environmental groups and also founded the Council for Responsible Public Investment. He also helped form the Environmental Justice Fund, to finance and unify “environmentalists of colour”. In the early 1990s, Camejo was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii to be an advisor to the Hawaii Capital Stewardship Forum.
In 1991 Camejo helped to found the California Green Party.
Camejo was Green Party candidate for governor in 2002 and again in 2003 during the recall election. He received 5% of the vote in 2002 and 3.1% in 2003.
In January 2004, Camejo issued a statement known as the “Avocado Declaration”. In it, Camejo accused the Democrats and Republicans of hindering social progress by working together to largely benefit a small, wealthy constituency.
Camejo advocated an independent Green Party that could attract nonvoters and disillusioned mainstream party supporters.
In June 2004, Camejo accepted the vice-presidential spot in the independent campaign of former two time Green Party presidential candidate, Ralph Nader.
After some serious infighting, the Greens had actually nominated Texan David Cobb as their presidential candidate.
Nader then campaigned as an independent with Camejo as his Green running mate. Their campaign focused heavily on opposition to the Iraq war. The Nader/Camejo ticket placed third in the election with .4% of the vote, four times the official Green Cobb/laMarche team’s tally.
In 2004, Camejo established the group “Greens for Democracy and Independence” (GDI), as a declaration of independence from the Democratic Party. Many GDI members however are linked to the US’s largest Trotskyist group, the International Socialist Organisation
His newest book is “California: Under Corporate Rule,” written with Green Party members Todd Chretien, Sarah Knopp, Rachel Odes, Don Bechler, Mehul Thakker, Forrest Hill, and Donna Warren, several of whom are ISO members.
Camejo is currently Chief Executive Officer of Progressive Asset Management, a financial investment firm that helped pioneer the “socially responsible” investment movement.
PAM allows “investors to screen for: corporate governance, environmental performance, employee relations, product liabilities, militarism and weapons, nuclear power, genetic engineering, repressive regimes and alcohol/gambling/tobacco” and also “empowers investors teaching them how to influence the direction of the corporations they partially own through their shares”.
While Camejo has repeatedly stated that the Greens are not and never will be a socialist party, he leaves no doubt about his own views, often describing himself as a watermelon…”Green on the outside, red on the inside.”