Green Party activist Camejo dies at 68

September 13, 2008 6:54:11 PM PDT
Peter Camejo, a Green Party leader who was a third-party candidate in three California gubernatorial elections before becoming Ralph Nader's running mate in the 2004 presidential race, has died. He was 68.Camejo, who had been battling lymphoma, died Saturday at his home in Folsom, outside Sacramento.

"Peter was a friend, colleague and politically courageous champion of the downtrodden and mistreated of the entire Western Hemisphere," Nader wrote in a statement released Saturday.

"Everyone who met Peter, talked to Peter, worked with Peter, or argued with Peter, will miss the passing of a great American."

Camejo ran for the state's top office in 2002, 2003 and 2006, supporting abortion rights, universal health care and a moratorium on the death penalty. Before joining the Green Party, he also ran for president as the Socialist Workers Party nominee in 1976.

In 2004, Camejo was independent Nader's vice presidential pick.

Camejo, a first-generation Venezuelan-American, was also active against the Vietnam War and a vocal advocate for migrant worker rights. He marched in Selma, Ala. with Martin Luther King, Jr.

His activism also got him expelled from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967 for using a school microphone during a demonstration. A year later, then-governor Ronald Reagan put him on his list of the 10 most dangerous people in California because he was "present at all anti-war demonstrations."

Last month, Camejo, who lost his hair from chemotherapy, attended the Peace and Freedom Party convention in Sacramento to endorse Nader's current bid for the presidency with running mate Matt Gonzalez.

"Ralph Nader is more than a candidate, he's an issue," Camejo said in his Aug. 2 speech, adding that Nader brought true reform, offering an independent choice to the "ruling party."

Nader said Camejo passed away a few days after completing his autobiography, which has a working title of "Northstar."

According to a statement put out by Camejo's family on a blog that had been updating his condition, Camejo voluntarily returned home Friday after undergoing treatment at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for a reccurrence of lymphoma.

"Peter's health had declined rapidly over the last two days due to the aggressiveness of his cancer and the strength of the drugs used to combat his disease," according to the family statement.

"His wife was at his side when he passed peacefully this morning."

The family is planning private funeral services, and a public memorial will be arranged later.

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