The Insane Conspiracy Theory That Mexico's President Is Photoshopping Himself Into Photos

This is a very, very, very weird story.

Last week, a petrochemical plant in the city of Coatzacoalcos —owned by Mexichem and Mexican state-run oil company Pemex — exploded.

Stringer . / Reuters

As of Friday, the death toll reportedly increased to at least 28 people. Authorities are still trying to determine the overall impact of the damage.

REUTERS/Angel Hernandez

Mexico's president, Enrique Peña Nieto, shared a photo album on the official Facebook page for the national presidency shortly after the blast. The album showed Peña Nieto touring the affected area.

Facebook: PresidenciaMX

"President Enrique Peña Nieto visited the disaster area in the petrochemical complex 'Pajaritos' where an explosion occurred yesterday."

The only problem with Peña Nieto's photos, however, is that they didn't look exactly natural...

See what I mean?

Like there's just, um, something sort of off about them.

Like the lighting is totally weird.

It's just...

You see what I'm saying?

Detalle / Via Facebook: PresidenciaMX

Well, you better believe people noticed.

Facebook: PresidenciaMX

"Really... Am I the only one that thinks that these pictures are fake? Vile photomontages that mock our intelligence. In the remote case that the area was free of toxic gas and vapor. If the 'head' doesn't give the good example with security, what can we expect from workers to operate with the minimum security? It's clear that security is not a priority here! His visit did not bring anything new. Coatzacoalco's population are the only ones that have been in solidarity with the families, bringing food, medication and water to the hospitals. Visiting the debris will not fix anything. They aren't even trying to fix the damage done to the families. It's a pity that we have this kind of government."

Facebook: PresidenciaMX

"Well, I don't see the good example of using security equipment here. Is weird that the army is using facemasks during the contingency and we see them walking naturally, fresh and even 'tropical' walking around without proper equipment. I really hope that they brought aid to the affected and not only take pictures. Do your job, have empathy with the people, be more human and aid the victims. It's not fair to doctor the numbers. Many families today suffer while some other people consider these are marbles and not human lives."

President Peña Nieto's photos quickly went viral all over Mexican social media.

Twitter: @claudianes17

"Someone who can help us fix the terrible photoshop work done by @PresidenciaMX @EPN"

Twitter: @RaulSCordon

"President @EPN visits 'Parajito' complex in his vehicle called Photoshop."

Twitter: @_SergioMejia

"Hey Mr. @julioastillero. Don't you think that most of @EPN's pictures in #Pajaritos look like a bad photoshop work?"

Twitter: @VarelaCuriel

"Someone who knows something about Photoshop can help me be in the disaster zone of Pajaritos? - Enrique Peña Nieto."

And then to make matters worse, Javier Duarte, the governor of the state where the explosion happened, tweeted about the disaster. Except Duarte tweeted this photo from a 2011 airstrike in Libya instead for some reason.

Twitter: @AlfonsoGama / Via

"Working on the emergency caused by an explosion in Pajaritos complex in #Coatzacoalcos. Activating care protocols."

People also quickly took Peña Nieto and started photoshopping him into other photos.

Movies like Star Wars.

And this photo of that crying Brazilian World Cup fan.

And this photo of that Kenyan woman who briefly became a meme last month.

They even put him at Springfield's power plant.


Alejandra Lagunes, the national coordinator of digital strategy for the president, told BuzzFeed News that the photos have not been retouched.

BuzzFeed / Via Facebook: PresidenciaMX

This photo is from the president's Facebook album, and BuzzFeed Mexico added the red circles for emphasis.

"All we did was light treatment," Lagunes said. "The only thing that was applied to photography was contrast, making the blacks blacker and more illuminated."

Lagunes said the reason they used a light treatment was because it was a cloudy day.

BuzzFeed Mexico used a photo forensic tool to more thoroughly scrutinize the photos. It reveals different layers of a photo, along with digital modification. The photo seems fishy, but it doesn't look blatantly photoshopped.

BuzzFeed Mexico also conducted a poll — and the majority of readers totally aren't buying it. Here's a rough Google Translate version of what people think about the whole thing:

*X-Files theme plays*