It's come to this: Venezuela approves funds to relieve the toilet-paper shortage

After longtime Chavismo-strongman Hugo Chavez’s death earlier this year, his lieutenant Nicolas Maduro “won” the snap election for a replacement president — except that the opposition party headed by challenger Henry Capriles maintains that the election results were fraudulent and is refusing to recognize Maduro as the legitimate president without a thorough audit of the whole thing. The Venezuelan Supreme Court tried to nip that idea in the bud (because really, what good is a corrupted and tyrannical power structure without rule-of-law-defying loyalty?), but the opposition isn’t giving up and Venezuelan politics of late have not been going at all smoothly.

Venezuela’s parliament roared back to life Tuesday with fractious debates between government and opposition lawmakers after a three-week paralysis following a brawl on the assembly floor.

While no punches were thrown this time, the animated discussions reflected the deep polarization of the country since the death of longtime leader Hugo Chavez and last month’s disputed presidential election.

Opposition lawmakers, who claim Chavez’s anointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, stole the election by fraud, called for an investigation into the April 30 punch-up in the National Assembly, which left several members of the opposition injured. The brawl erupted as opposition legislators protested a decision to deny them the right to speak unless they accepted the election result.

The opposition also used Tuesday’s session to call for an investigation into an audio recording they claim reveals Cuban behind-the-scenes influence on the Chavista government.

Maduro, meanwhile, probably has much more important presidential business to which he needs to attend than the daily squabbles over his shady election circumstances. Oh, things like, you know — convincing his fellow Venezuelans that the massive shortages of basic goods are actually due to nefarious political plots and not the utter folly of central planning and price controls that cause artificial shortages and drive up inflation. The usual stuff.

Venezuela’s National Assembly has backed plans to import 39 million rolls of toilet paper, in an effort to relieve a chronic shortage.

Lawmakers voted to approve a $79m credit for the country’s ministry of commerce, which will also be used to buy toothpaste and soap. …

The oil-rich nation relies on imports, but currency controls have restricted its ability to pay for foreign goods.

President Nicolas Maduro, who won a narrow majority in April’s presidential elections, maintains that the country’s periodic shortages of basic goods are the result of a conspiracy by the opposition and rich sectors of society.