As a liberal, I do wish that my fellow American leftists would stop heaping praise on people like Zelaya, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales. You can't have a democracy without an election, but an election does not a democracy make. It is also the rule of law, rather than the rule of the individual that makes a free state. None of the leaders I've mentioned are harsh dictators, but each has shown a tendency towards, what I would call, a soft dictatorship.
They've all tried, on some level, to allow themselves to be elected president for life, and each has also shown a tendency to rule by decree. They're all a long ways (Well maybe not Chavez) from secret police and disappearing the opposition, but they're all laying the ground work for a hard dictatorship, with no limits, that are not self imposed, on their power.
Being a true liberal should not include support for left wing dictators. If anything, being a liberal should involve opposition to a dictatorship of any kind.