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Maria Belen Chapur is 43.

She is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is a divorced mother of two teenage boys who wants to believe she can still experience true love.

She is an intensely private woman, and one who was not afraid to fight back when she felt that her all-important privacy had been breached.

She was educated in Catholic schools and has professed her belief in God, evil and the afterlife, and yet joined Mark Sanford, a married father of four sons, in violating the Seventh Commandment prohibition against adultery.

Maria Belen Chapur has successfully eluded the news media since the South Carolina Governor publicly and tearfully revealed their yearlong affair last week.

Friends and family have enfolded her and her boys in a protective cocoon, and the only known image of her is a grainy, eight-year-old video from her brief moment in front of the cameras as a television reporter in New York.

Other than a 200-word statement denouncing a hacker’s “evil act” of leaking her passionate emails with Sanford, Maria Chapur has maintained her silence.

“I won’t speak about my private life as it just belongs to me,” she wrote to a former TV colleague, after confirming her affair with Sanford via a statement.

“It has already been made too public in these days, bringing me more pain.”

Due partly to the loyalty of friends and family, as well as tougher Argentine privacy laws, relatively little is known about Mark Sanford’s “other woman.”

In fact, much of what we know about Chapur comes from her own emails, which found their way into the hands of South Carolina’s The State newspaper.

Chapur attended St. Catherine’s Moorlands, a private, international baccalaureate school in Buenos Aires. Chapur’s mother is from what one acquaintance described as a very powerful “oligarchic” family in Argentina.

After school, she married a grain exporter and bore two sons, now 15 and 19. Later, Chapur entered the Catholic University of Argentina, says a former classmate, graduating with a degree in political science and international relations.

The athletic, dark-haired Maria Belen Chapur traveled the world, learning English, French and Portuguese. She even studied Mandarin Chinese after accompanying her husband on a business trip to Beijing and Shanghai.

She dabbled in television, reporting from New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and also did stints as an English interpreter and market researcher.

She and Sanford met eight years ago, according to one of Sanford’s emails, “in a wind swept somewhat open air dance spot” in Punta del Este – an upscale Uruguayan beach resort that attracts up to 1 million visitors in the summer.

Sanford was about to embark on his first gubernatorial campaign. Maria Chapur was in the process separating from her husband. Sanford counseled her that she should try to salvage her marriage for the boys’ sake and because it was “part of God’s law.”

For whatever reason, that reconciliation never happened, and the couple divorced. But her e-mail correspondence with Sanford continued, and intensified.

In 2008, a relationship that started innocently, in his words, “developed into something much more than that.” That month, Sanford traveled to Brazil on a state trade mission. He managed to build in a side trip to Buenos Aires.

The governor’s agenda includes hours of “personal time” and two dinners where he advises others traveling with him to have “dinner on your own.”

Receipts show he listed no other officials joining him at El Faro restaurant and el Mosto wine bar in the Hilton Buenos Aires, where he stayed for three nights.

Continue reading this article in the Kansas City Star