That hot Honduran love for Manuel Zelaya seems to have faded. The deposed president tried to generate a border protest that would sweep him back into power, but the current Honduran government kept the border clear instead. Reuters reports that instead of drawing tens of thousands to the Nicaraguan border, Zelaya barely got ten tens:
Disheartened supporters of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya trickled home from the Nicaraguan border on Sunday, weakening protests backing his bid to return to power after a coup last month.
Honduran troops manning checkpoints have prevented several thousand demonstrators from staging a show of support at the border for the leftist leader, now exiled in Nicaragua.
Six miles from the border, 100 weary protesters milled around the coffee town of El Paraiso, a far cry from the massive outpouring of public backing Zelaya had called for. …
A couple hundred Hondurans who managed to reach the border were camped out in Nicaragua with Zelaya, holed up in the town of Ocotal on Sunday planning his next move.
This looks like a combination of better security by Honduras and a sense that Zelaya has overplayed his hand in exile. At first, Zelaya sounded contrite and promised to return under an agreement that would have seriously constrained him, making him look like the reasonable party in the affair. It didn’t take long before Zelaya began dropping hints that he’d like to return at the head of a Venezuelan or Nicaraguan column to seize power, which couldn’t have endeared Zelaya to mainstream Hondurans that would prefer not to have a foreign army invade their country.
That sense of overplaying the hand appears to have damaged Zelaya among his allies in the Obama administration, too. When Zelaya did the Hokey Pokey across the border for the benefit of journalists last week, Hillary Clinton slammed Zelaya for being “reckless”. He retorted by instructing Clinton to confront the Honduran government “with force,” a not-so-subtle suggestion that Zelaya would be just as happy to ride at the head of a US Army column to get to Tegulcigalpa.
All of these stunts and ultimatums have done more to strip the mask from Zelaya and reveal him as a dictator-in-gestation, and show that Honduras had the right idea when they arrested him, even if the execution of the idea was debatable. Small wonder that Zelaya didn’t get adoring crowds this weekend; the adoration has dwindled down to the core Chavistas.