When he handily won a primary to run for the National Assembly, Enzo Scarano hoped to be part of a wave carrying the opposition to a legislative majority that would alter the political balance in Venezuela. But when a government agency stripped him of his right to hold public office, scuttling his candidacy, he found himself caught up in a different kind of wave — of government measures that appear aimed at weakening the opposition ahead of a make-or-break legislative election in December. “It was a message to the Venezuelan people: ‘Look, we can do whatever we want,’ ” Mr. Scarano said of the move to bar him and at least eight other prominent politicians and activists from running for office. He said the goal was “to discourage people from voting and to create an internal conflict” in the opposition’s Democratic Unity coalition.
Mr. Scarano, 52, who served for a decade as mayor in this opposition-dominated city, became a national figure last year after he was thrown in jail and removed from office on charges that he failed to stop protests against the leftist government of President Nicolás Maduro.
His 10-and-a-half-month sentence ended in February, and in May he won the primary to be the local congressional candidate for the opposition. But on July 15 the national controller’s office ruled that he was prohibited from holding public office for a year. The reason: The controller’s office said Mr. Scarano was late in filing a financial disclosure required of all public officials after they leave office.
Mr. Scarano said he filed the papers in time — the dispute centers on the date he was officially removed from office by the court. But even if he missed the deadline by a little less than three weeks, as the controller contends, he argued that he should have been fined, not lost his right to run for office.