I met Peter Camejo only twice, both during the 2004 election when he ran as Ralph Nader’s running mate. We organized a couple of talks for him here and I was fortunate to get to be his fixer while he was in town. I sat with him as he gave interviews, made calls, got him lunch, this kind of thing. We talked about the potential for the development of a workers’ party, the “safe states” strategy of the Cobb wing of the Greens, a little about the history of the left in which he played such a prominent role and about the best Arab restaurants in town among other things. He was not shy of talking.
Long before Peter’s thin volume on Reconstruction had been tucked into my book shelf. I got it at a used bookstore 15 years ago. The name on the inside cover of the former owner was of a prominent SWPer in Cincinnati from the 70’s and 80’s. When former comrades leave the movement they often dump their Marxist libraries at used bookstores. So much the better for the rest of us.
Peter was a remarkable speaker. His energy and passion were palpable and he retained this energy and passion without the comforts of illusion. Camejo fought his entire life for independent political action on the part of the working class. Readers will be familiar with many of his contributions over the years. Here are a couple of pieces from from those who knew and and or appreciated Peter.
His voice will be missed (here is audio of him speaking in 1976 interview by Tom Snyder), his activism hard to replace, his dedication and commitment an inspiration. If we get there it will be, in part, because of his life’s work. Peter Camejo, Presente!
Louis Proyect: Reflections on Peter Camejo (1939-2008)
Todd Chretien: A Life Spent In Struggle
Stuart Munckton of Green Left Weekly: Peter Miguel Camejo – 1939-2008
Barry Sheppard: Peter Camejo: A Tribute
Prisoner of Starvation Blog: Rest In Peace Peter Camejo
And finally Peter Camejo was for freedom in all kinds of ways. Marijuana arrests jumped 5% in 2007 to over 870,000, while cocaine and heroin arrests fell. Here he is discussing the “War On Drugs” with two extremely excitable heads and the legalization of cannabis during his Gubernatorial run in 2003.