FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims To Show Barack Obama Kissing Hugo Chavez

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times purportedly shows former President Barack Obama kissing late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“Obama wants it off the internet!” reads the caption. “So… Repost it!”

Verdict: False

The image has been digitally manipulated. It actually comes from a 2011 communication campaign featuring photoshopped images of various world leaders kissing.

Fact Check:

Obama and Chavez interacted a number of times in their capacities as the leaders of their respective nations. The Facebook post, shared more than 12,000 times, allegedly depicts Obama sharing a kiss with the late Venezuelan president.

However, a quick reverse image search revealed that the image has been digitally manipulated. Italian fashion company Benetton’s UNHATE Foundation created the photoshopped picture for its 2011 “Unhate” communication campaign to promote “reconciliation and tolerance,” according to CNBC.

Other campaign images showed German Chancellor Angela Merkel kissing former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Pope Benedict XVI kissing Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb. The ad featuring the pope was later withdrawn after the Vatican took legal action against Benetton, according to Reuters.

The White House expressed disapproval of the campaign, which also included a photoshopped image of Obama lip-locked with former Chinese President Hu Jintao, in November 2011. (RELATED: Did Obama Award The Presidential Medal Of Freedom To Clinton, Cosby, Weiner And Weinstein?)

“The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes,” said then-White House spokesman Eric Schultz, according to Reuters.

Though the UNHATE Foundation disclaimed that the pictures were “symbolic images” in a press release, the image shared on Facebook fails to do the same. It deceptively portrays the image of Obama kissing Chavez as real.

Obama has been the subject of manipulated pictures in the past. In July, the former president appeared in a doctored image on Facebook that depicted him awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former President Bill Clinton, comedian Bill Cosby, movie producer Harvey Weinstein and former congressman Anthony Weiner.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter

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