Enrique’s paternal great grandfather made a fortune in real-estate. His grandfather later took over the business. The prestige of the Sardina family continued when Enrique’s father married the daughter of the chief justice of Cuba’s supreme court.
Like most families in Cuba, the Sardinas were immersed with Catholicism. Enrique's granduncle was a Jesuit priest and later became bishop. Enrique's father's first cousin was also a Jesuit priest. The Catholic Church does not accept divorce regardless of the circumstances. They would only consider annulment of a marriage. The church will not remarry a divorced person or recognize the civil legal marriage of a divorced person. When Enrique’s father decided he would divorce his wife, the family threatened to remove him from any inheritance but he would not be deterred. Enrique's sister Olguita was born during this marriage and she remained with her mother. Enrique loved and visited his sister often with his father. He felt bad for her that she did not have her dad to live in the same home with her.
His father’s second wife, Ludivina, was born into poverty. Her mother was determined her daughter would not suffer her same fate. She worked hard and long to ensure her daughter received a good education. Ludivinda graduated at a young age with a teaching degree from the University of Havana. But it was Ludivina’s beauty that brought her into prominence. It attracted a Cuban senator who married Ludivina. He went on to become president of Cuba’s Senate.
From the grip of poverty she was thrust into the lime light of Cuba’s political elite. But shortly after the birth of her first son, Juan Alberto, Ludivina discovered her husband had a mistress. Being a woman of strong principle she chose not to continue in their marriage if she had to accept this as a condition. She now faced life with a young son under the stigma of being a divorced woman in a predominantly Roman Catholic country with a very machismo culture.
Not too long after her divorce, Enrique’s father saw Ludivina. Family legend has it that the first words he spoke to her were, “I am going to marry you.” Ludivina initially thought he was crazy and disregarded what he said. But as she would explain in later years, “He was not only very tall and very handsome, he was a most persistent man.”
This second marriage was not welcomed news to some in the Sardina family. Enrique's grandmother was especially biased against this divorced woman with a child. But Enrique’s grandfather let it be known that he fully accepted Ludivina. The family gatherings were often uncomfortable for some of the relatives considered the first wife to be the real wife. Ludivina felt their discrimination.
Enrique said he respected his father for cutting his own path in life even when it cost him. “My father was a faithful husband,” said Enrique. "He was a strong and a good man, and he cared for my brother Juan Alberto as his own son. My mother was equally faithful. Both my parents loved us dearly. They made many sacrifices for us as their children. I thank God for the wonderful family that He gave me to grow up in. I knew I was loved.”