In March 2016, as President Obama made an historic trip to Cuba (becoming the first U.S. president to journey there since Calvin Coolidge in 1928), an old image of holding a t-shirt picturing Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara began recirculated on Facebook. The picture was typically displayed along with the claim that President Obama was ignoring the terrorist attack in Brussels while honoring one of the “most reviled terrorists of the modern age”:
However, this photograph was not taken during President Obama’s March 2016 visit to Cuba, nor did it picture the U.S. chief executive with a Che Guevara t-shirt. The original image was taken in 2009 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and featured the President with a t-shirt displaying a math joke about Moses’ parting the waters:
US President Barack Obama holds a T-shirt given to him as he toured a research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an institution that has been developing cutting edge clean energy technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 23, 2009.
Shortly after terrorists set off explosions at an airport and subway station in Brussels, President Obama gave a speech about the subject from Havana, saying (in part):
“We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. We will do whatever is necessary to support our ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible,” the president, who is currently abroad on an historic trip to Cuba, said at the beginning of remarks to the Cuban people in Havana.
“We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism,” he said. “We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”
While in Cuba, President Obama was photographed at Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, with the Ministry of the Interior building where Guevara once worked and its 5-story steel outline of his face visible in the background: