Argentine woman linked to S.C. governor ducks journalists

McClatchy NewspapersJune 25, 2009 

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — TV camera operators and photographers camped Thursday outside the apartment building where Argentina's mystery woman lives.

However, Maria Belen Chapur, whom the Buenos Aires daily newspaper Clarin has identified as the woman South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has been involved with over the past year, remained elusive.

This much is known: Chapur worked as a journalist and translator of English for about a year for the Argentine television station Canal America, according to Gabriel Bartos, who was then a producer with Canal America. Bartos said that Chapur went to New York after the 9-11 attacks in 2001 to report for the station.

A different Argentine television station heralded on its Web site what it said was a brief video clip of Chapur from 2001.

"Because she's from Argentina, the scandal has become one of our own," said Yanina Mendez, a correspondent for Tele 9, who said she'd already given seven live reports by noon Thursday in front of the building.

McClatchy is identifying Chapur now because Argentine news media outlets have splashed her name across the Web. The Argentine outlets have variously given her age as 41 and 43 and said she was brunette and tall.

A doorman at Chapur's apartment house said she was an avid jogger, as is Sanford, but the doorman wasn't sure whether the governor had visited her recently.

Chapur lives on the seventh floor of the 14-story building, which has a small lobby where the doorman sits at a black desk. The building is on Republica de la India, which usually is a quiet residential street in the posh Palermo neighborhood. A row of trees lines the sidewalk opposite the building, which faces part of Buenos Aires' zoo.

Camera operators and photographers set up on the sidewalk outside the building before dawn Thursday, and shivered throughout the day in the winter weather.

The U.S. Embassy in Argentina confirmed Thursday that Sanford had visited the country a year ago and met the governor of Buenos Aires province. The notice was noteworthy because Sanford, in admitting to the affair Wednesday, said it had begun about a year ago.

(McClatchy special correspondent Angeles Mase contributed to this article from Buenos Aires.)

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McClatchy Newspapers 2009

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