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The Drug Problem: A System Dynamics Approach to Mexico's Case


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For decades, the drug problem has been approached primarily in the context of a war on drugs, in which militaries and law enforcement agencies are used to execute drug prohibition and punitive policies. So far, this solution has only managed to increase the resilience of illegal drug supply chains to the detriment of the resilience of individuals, states, and the international order, as the case studies of Mexico and Brazil demonstrate. By contrast, case studies of Switzerland and Peru exemplify the advantages of pursuing a broader, system-oriented approach. This thesis examines the advantages of exhaustively studying a problem to offer sound alternative solutions. In their role as problem solvers, systems thinkers must provide decisionmakers with reliable tools to implement strategies with the greatest probability of success. Thus, the study of the complex drug problem cannot be limited to fragmented analyses that offer short-term solutions based on simplistic heuristics. This thesis uses qualitative-exploratory analysis, case studies, and system dynamics concepts to capture the drug problem structure and behavior in causal loop diagrams. In the case of Mexico, the application of these tools and methodology leads to recommending the development of legitimate job opportunities - guiding government and non-government investment and improving security conditions - as a potential leverage point alternative to the war on drugs' punitive policies for mitigating the drug problem.



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