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Spanish civil servants mourn sweeping wage cuts

MADRID -- Spanish civil servants, many dressed in mourning black, took to the streets Friday in angry protest as the government approved new sweeping austerity measures that include wage cuts and tax increases for a country struggling under a recession and an unemployment rate of near 25 percent.

Spain is under pressure to get its public finances on track amid concerns in the markets over the state of the country's banks and the wider economy.

“Spain is going through one of its most dramatic moments,” Deputy Prime Minister Saenz de Santamaria said after a Cabinet meeting at which sales tax hikes and spending cuts were approved.

Admitting that the austerity measures were “neither simple, nor easy, nor popular,” she said the government would try to enact the measures “with the maximum justice and equity.”

The conservative government has come under mounting criticism that the austerity measures are hitting the middle and working classes the hardest.

“The government should go after the big companies that don't pay tax and bankers that have committed fraud and have run this country to the ground,” said Pablo Gonzalez, 52, who works for the Madrid regional government. “Instead, we have to pay.”

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A demonstrator shows to police officers a banner reading “Cuts? Stop to rob!” during a protest against the recent austerity measures announced by the Spanish government, in front of the Popular Party in Madrid on Friday, July 13. (AP)

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