Several thousand Cypriots demonstrated on Saturday in the capital Nicosia to protest against tough austerity measures imposed by international lenders. It was the first such social protest since Cyprus obtained a 10-billion-euro (13.7 billion U.S. dollars) bailout. A strong police force kept a discreet watch from some distance on the demonstrators as they gathered outside the Ministry of Finance and then walked about two kilometers to the hilltop Presidential Palace to hand a petition to President Nicos Anastasiades. The document, which was read out to the protesters outside the Palace, expressed agony and indignation at the effects of austerity measures imposed on the population by the so called troika, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, saying they pushed the population into unemployment, poverty and misery. The right-wing government which came to power shortly after the bailout memorandum was negotiated and concluded in principle by its left-wing predecessor introduced salary and pension cuts and cut back on public spending, stifling development and causing unemployment to rise to record levels. The demonstrators, mainly coming from let-wing trade unions and organizations, carried banners opposing pension cuts and the discontinuation of government allowances and demanded free public education and the introduction of measures for economic development and job creation. One of the main problems preventing Cyprus' return to economic development is the lack of liquidity after the island's largest bank was forced to recapitalize with depositors' money and the second largest lender was wound down under the burden of its debt to the European Central Bank.