In 2008, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed his opposition to the FARC-PE`s use of kidnappings.   Former Cuban President Fidel Castro also criticized the use of hostage-taking by the guerrillas as « objectively cruel » and proposed that the group release all its prisoners and hostages.  On 2 July 2008, as part of a Colombian military operation called Operation Jaque, the Colombian government led the Colombian government to return 15 prisoners to Colombian secret service agents, who were journalists and international aid workers during a helicopter rescue. Military intelligence agents infiltrated the ranks of the guerrillas and led the local commander, Gerardo Aguilar Ramérez aka Cesar, to believe that they would take them by helicopter to Alfonso Cano, the supreme leader of the guerrillas. Also rescued were U.S. servicemen Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell, as well as 11 Colombian police and soldiers. The commander, Cesar and another rebel were taken into custody after boarding the helicopter without incident of officers.  On 4 July, some observers asked whether this was an intercepted captivity that was to resemble a rescue.  In a statement on 5 July, the FARC itself accused the cesar and Enrique rebels of the prisoners` flight and acknowledged the event as a setback, while reaffirming their willingness to conclude future humanitarian agreements.  Immediately after the prisoners were rescued, Colombian forces cornered the rest of the 1st front of the FARC-EP, the unit that had captured the prisoners. Colombian forces did not want to attack the 1st front, but offered them an amnesty if they surrendered.  Colombia`s humanitarian attention program for the demobilized announced in August 2008 that 339 members of Colombian rebel groups had surrendered their weapons in July, including 282 guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.  Duque also appears to be considering a U.S.
request to extradite FARC guerrillas accused of involvement in international drug trafficking. The FARC participates in all stages of production, from coca cultivation to drug trafficking. In the 1990s, the FARC successfully co-opted some coca movements (coca growers) and were originally primarily involved in the production phase, while paramilitary groups dominated the more lucrative drug trade. However, in the second half of the 1990s, the dismantling of the Medellén and Cali cartels and the dissolution of the Soviet Union led the FARC to engage in drug trafficking. :3 A recent investigation by the Colombian Attorney General concluded that FARC units are directly or indirectly involved in culture, processing and distribution, directly as owners of crops, laboratories, crystallization workshops and distribution corridors that contact customers, including national and international drug cartels; indirectly by providing safety for crops or laboratories, organizing farmers in anti-extermination marches, setting product prices, imposing taxes on the product or providing security to Third-party drug traffickers for a fee. The study also estimated guerrilla income from narcotics and related taxes between 1995 and 2014 at more than $22,900,000 (66,977,978,247 pesos).  The EU should use its experience to help farmers convert to illegal crops, in order to change Bogota`s current focus on eliminating coca and eliminating drug trafficking. In Colombia, there is a broad political consensus that the plant substitution programme is, in its current form, flawed and impossible to pay for.
The EU could help the authorities find ways to increase substitution more effectively while maintaining existing commitments to coca producers.