Cypriots Protest Bailout Austerity

NICOSIA, Cyprus – Hundreds of students, seniors and trade union members braved unseasonably low temperatures in Cyprus’ capital Nicosia to protest the country’s financial rescue agreement they say has led to steep spending cuts and rising joblessness.

Protesters marched from the finance ministry to the presidential palace to voice their anger at what they say is a bitter austerity pill prescribed by international creditors that’s driving up poverty levels.

The Dec. 14 protest was one of the largest since March when Cyprus avoided financial ruin after agreeing with other Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund on a bailout that gutted its financial system.

The country’s economy is projected to shrink by 7.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year, while unemployment is forecast to peak at over 19 percent in 2014.